Thornton man gets life in prison for 1987 murder of Fort Carson soldier

Posted at 12:40 PM, Jun 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-25 14:40:37-04

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The first Colorado cold case believed to be investigated with the help of a new genealogy technique has resulted in a life sentence for a man convicted in a young woman's killing in 1987.

Michael Whyte, 60, of Thornton, was sentenced Friday to life in prison without the possibility of parole, according to the 4th Judicial District Attorney's Office.

He was found guilty Thursday in the 1987 death of Darlene Krashoc, a 20-year-old soldier who was stationed at Fort Carson.

Whyte was arrested in June 2019, more than 30 years after Krashoc's murder.

Krashoc was found dead March 17, 1987, behind a restaurant in Colorado Springs. She had spent the night before with friends at a club.

Detectives had investigated Krashoc's killing for years after her death, conducting hundreds of interviews. But the case went cold, police said, until investigators found reopened the case for DNA testing in 2004 and again in 2011.

Investigators discovered a DNA profile of a man on several pieces of evidence in the case. The Army, working with Colorado Springs police, submitted the DNA profile in 2016 for additional testing, including an evaluation for a phenotype. Using the phenotype, investigators in 2017 put together composite images of what Krashoc's alleged killer might have looked like then, and what he might have looked like in 1987.

Officials released the composite images to the public and offered a $10,000 reward. But no breaks were made in the case.

Earlier in 2019, police said, investigators sought genetic genealogy testing on the DNA profile. The testing resulted in identifying Whyte as the suspect, police said.

Genetic genealogy typically involves a process of testing a suspect's DNA against an open-source ancestry database such as GED Match or FamilyTreeDNA. If a match is found, investigators then have to trace the match to the suspect's DNA, connecting the dots on a family tree.

The technique first drew widespread attention in the Golden State Killer case in California.

Over the last two years, several high-profile Colorado cold cases have been solved through the use of genetic genealogy.