Hockey Dad Discards Hotdog Napkin At Game, Gets Busted For 1993 Murder

DNA on the napkin linked Jerry Westrom to the cold case killing of Jeanie Childs.

February 22, 2019

Jerry Westrom [Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office]

Jerry Westrom [Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office]

By: Mike McPadden

MINNEAPOLIS, MN — According to police, a Minnesota businessman has been arrested in a 1993 cold case murder after DNA from a discarded napkin matched samples from the crime scene that had been run through a genealogy website.

By the time Jerry Westrom, 52, ate a hot dog at his daughter’s hockey game last month, authorities say they’d been intensely looking at him as a potential suspect in the 1993 murder of 25-year-old Jeanna Anne “Jeanie” Childs.

Investigators reportedly got the break they wanted, then, after Westrom downed his hot dog, then wiped his mouth with a napkin and threw it in the garbage.

An officer subsequently retrieved Westom’s napkin from the trash. DNA from the napkin was then compared to DNA taken from the murder scene that police had already run through a genealogy site. The samples matched and connected Westrom to the crime.

Back in 1993, officers responded to a water leak at Jeanie Childs’ apartment and discovered her bloody, near naked body in the shower. Childs had been stabbed dozens of times, both before and after she died, and traditional police work garnered no suspects.

Crime-scene units gathered DNA samples from a bed comforter, a towel, a washcloth, and bloodstains left on the sink in Childs’ home. Regardless, the DNA yielded no connection, and the case eventually went cold.

That changed in 2015 when Minnesota authorities reopened their investigation. Citing massive leaps forward in DNA technology, the police worked with the FBI and a private DNA company to identify the Jeanna Childs murder scene material.

In 2017, investigators ran the crime-scene DNA through a genealogy website and got two hits. One was a relative of Jerry Westrom — someone who had sent DNA into the site for analysis. The other was Jerry Westrom himself.

From there, detectives just needed to obtain a fresh DNA batch from Jerry Westrom. Upon finishing that fateful hot dog and throwing away his napkin in January 2019, Westrom is said to have unwittingly given it to them.

Police arrested Westrom this past Monday. He has been charged with second-degree murder and is being held on $1 million bail.

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