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Cold case solved: Murder suspect convicted in 1981 death of Cherry Hills woman

Posted at 12:26 PM, Jul 01, 2022

ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. — After more than 40 years and an arrest in 2021, the suspect in a cold case murder out of Cherry Hills was convicted by a jury Thursday.

A jury in Arapahoe County found David Dwayne Anderson guilty of two counts of first-degree murder in the death of Sylvia Quayle, 34, in 1981, according to the 18th Judicial District Attorney's Office.

The charges stem from Aug. 4, 1981, when Quayle was found dead in her home along the 3800 block of S. Ogden Street in Cherry Hills. A coroner determined she had been stabbed multiple times, was shot in the head, and had been sexually assaulted. She was found by her father.

The case went cold for almost two decades.

In 2000, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation submitted a DNA sample to CODIS, the FBI's Combined DNA Index System. But for years, it was unidentifiable.

Twenty years later, in 2020, the Cherry Hills Village Police Department started working with a genetic genealogy company called United Data Connect, which was founded by former Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey. The company entered the samples from the cold case into two public DNA databases — FamilyTreeDNA and GEDMatch — and came back with a possible lead for police.

An investigator with United Data Connect went to Anderson's residence in Cozad, Nebraska in January 2021 and gathered trash bags from his apartment complex's dumpster to collect a new DNA sample, the district attorney's office said. Lab testing found that DNA from a discarded soda can matched the DNA from the crime scene.

Cold No More: How genetic genealogy is solving Colorado's cold cases

Anderson was taken into custody on Feb. 10, 2021 in Nebraska and was charged with two counts of first-degree murder.

He initially was tried in March 2022 but jurors were not able to reach a verdict and it was declared a mistrial.

In June, the district attorney’s office brought the case to trial again. On June 30, the jury returned with guilty verdicts on both counts.

His sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 4. He faces life in prison with the possibility of parole after 20 years.

“We’re very grateful for the numerous investigators, analysts, and forensic scientists who, through the decades, refused to let the passage of time deter them in their quest for justice,” said Chief Deputy District Attorney Chris Gallo. “We certainly hope that this small measure of justice brings some degree of peace to Sylvia Quayle’s family, who has waited more than 40 years for this result.”

District Attorney John Kellner said this was a case that most people said would never get solved, but time and science was on their side.

“This verdict should give hope to all those who are still waiting for justice and for any killer who thinks they got away, know that we are still coming for you," Kellner said.

The cold case of Sylvia Quayle was one of many that Denver7 highlighted in a Denver7+ special presentation in September 2021. Click here to read more about these cases and watch the special.