Bite Marks Left On Victim’s Body Help Police Identify Suspect In 1994 Cold Case Murder
“She told us that someone had been taking photos of her and hanging up when she answered the phone,” the mother of Cheri Huss recalls.
Saliva from bite marks left on a murdered California woman’s body helped detectives identify and arrest a suspect accused of fatally stabbing her nearly three decades ago.
On April 24, 1994, Ruth Friedman said she and her husband drove from San Fernando Valley to Desert Hot Springs after their daughter, Cheryl “Cheri” Huss, “sounded desperate” in a troubling message she left them.
“She told us that someone had been taking photos of her and hanging up when she answered the phone,” the mother told the Desert Sun in 1998. “It sounded terrifying."
Friedman said she had an “ominous feeling” when she and her husband arrived at Huss’ residence and noticed the porch lights were on, the family dog was outside, and the Plymouth that should have been parked in the driveway was instead on the street.
The Friedmans found their daughter dead in the living room of the unlocked two-bedroom apartment. She had been stabbed multiple times and bitten by her killer.
According to the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office, homicide investigators said evidence collected at the scene, including her attacker’s blood, indicated the 39-year-old attempted to fight back before she died.
DNA testing on the killer’s blood as well as on saliva from bite marks left on the victim determined the two came from one male, prosecutors said.
Despite detectives’ regular efforts to run the DNA profile through the Combined DNA Index System, also known as CODIS, there was never a match and the case went cold.
In February 2022, however, the Riverside County Regional Cold Case Team used genetic genealogy to identify Sharron Eugene Gadlin, 48, as a person of interest in the case and subsequently learned that at the time of Huss’s murder he was living in Thousand Palms, a town around 12 miles away from the crime scene.
Investigators got a warrant to collect a sample of Gadlin’s saliva and tests confirmed his DNA profile matched that of the forensic evidence collected from the crime scene, prosecutors said.
Gadlin, who was arrested on March 4, 2022 during a traffic stop in Gardena, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and was being held at the Robert Presley Detention Center in lieu of $1 million bail, KESQ-TV reported.
“I hope Cheri and her family will finally get the justice they deserve and have waited so long for,” District Attorney Mike Hestrin said in a statement.
“Our cold case team of investigators will continue to use cutting edge technology to solve old murder cases across Riverside County,” Hestrin noted. “Our prosecutors will continue to vigorously prosecute these murderers until we get justice for their victims.”