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Convicted murderer sentenced in connection with 1981 cold case in Cherry Hills

Posted at 1:51 PM, Aug 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-04 15:52:07-04

ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. — Exactly 41 years after he killed a woman in her Cherry Hills home, the man who had eluded authorities for decades was sentenced to life in prison.

On Thursday, David Dwayne Anderson was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole after 20 years, the 18th Judicial District Attorney's Office announced.

In early July, a jury in Arapahoe County found Anderson guilty of two counts of first-degree murder in the 1981 death of Sylvia Quayle, 34.

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.

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

For almost two decades after her death, the case remained cold.

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.

On Feb. 10, 2021, Anderson was taken into custody in Nebraska and was charged with two counts of first-degree murder in connection with Quayle's death.

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 sentence of life with the possibility of parole after 20 years was the maximum sentence the court could impose under 1981 prosecution statutes, the district attorney's office 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.