DNA From Under Victim’s Fingernails Leads To Arrest Of Las Vegas Murderer After 42 Years

The case of who murdered 25-year-old Sandra DiFelice went cold for over four decades until her daughter urged police to take another look at the case in 2021.

November 02, 2022
Sandra DiFelice, pictured here smiling, was murdered on the night of Dec. 26, 1980.

The case of who murdered 25-year-old Sandra DiFelice went cold for over four decades until her daughter urged police to take another look at the case in 2021.

Photo by: Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department

On the night of Dec. 26, 1980, 25-year-old Sandra DiFelice was raped, beaten, stabbed, and strangled in the Las Vegas apartment she shared with a roommate, according to The Las Vegas Review-Journal. The newspaper called it “one of the most savage murders in Las Vegas’ history.”

DiFelice, a native of Boise, Idaho, was working as a waitress at Sambo’s Restaurant in Las Vegas at the time of her death. She had moved to the city with her childhood friend who was also her roommate. Her boyfriend discovered her dead body in bed, and her roommate had last seen her two hours before she was found.

The victim had a three-year-old daughter who also lived in the home but she was staying with her grandparents on the night of the murder. The case soon went cold, but it was DiFelice’s daughter who inspired the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department to take another look at the case when she contacted them in 2021 to ask about any updates.

Police went through the evidence and DNA collected from under DiFelice’s fingernails was tested using new technology. The results led to the arrest of suspect Paul Nuttall, reported USA Today.

On Oct. 31, 2022, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department held a press conference and announced they’d arrested Nuttall on Oct. 27 on suspicion of the brutal rape and murder. He had remained in the Las Vegas area after the killing and still lived there. The Las Vegas Review-Journal revealed that Nuttall had at least three previous arrests on charges of felony and misdemeanor drug possession in Las Vegas, but he had no prior charges of violence in Clark County.

CNN reported that Nutall was arrested on charges of “open murder” with the “use of a deadly weapon, sexual assault with the use of a deadly weapon, and burglary while in possession of a deadly weapon”.

“After Paul Nuttall was taken into custody, my cold case investigators had the pleasure of making the one phone call that every cold case detective wants to make,” Las Vegas Police Lieutenant Jason Johansson said, referring to the fact they were then able to call the victim’s daughter to let her know about the arrest.

“I am hopeful that in some way, shape, or form this provides some sort of closure for the family and ultimately results in some type of closure and justice for Sandra,” Johansson added.

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