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DNA helps crack Syracuse cold case

Ellen Abbott/WRVO
Onondaga County District Attorney William speaks at the podium while Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler and relatives of murder victim Colleen Meadow look on.

Syracuse police have cracked an almost 30-year-old murder case using a combination of high tech DNA and intensive police work. The arrest of a Georgia man who had long been a suspect in the investigation of the death of his estranged wife, is the latest success in the Syracuse Police Department’s cold case unit.

Authorities say Ronald Meadow will be arraigned on second-degree murder charges in Syracuse later this month, in connection with the death of his estranged wife, Colleen Meadow, who was found strangled to death in her northside apartment in March 1985.  

Ron Meadow had been a suspect, but never arrested, and subsequently moved to Georgia. Syracuse Police Detective Derek McGork started working on the cold case a few months ago, meticulously creating a timeline of Meadow’s activities the day of the murder, using police statements, and statements to an insurance company.  

District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick says it was that timeline, plus a risky decision to let Sheila Gentile of the Forensic Science Center have a piece of biological evidence of the case, that led to the arrest.

“She warned that it might not be enough, and that the material could be destroyed and not available for further examination. Derek and I made the decision that we would go ahead and test that material.  and the DNA has come back and points to Ron Meadow as the killer of Colleen Meadow,” said Fitzpatrick.

Meadow’s family, including her sister Nancy Moran, joined police and prosecutors as they announced the arrest.

"On that snowy evening in early March 1985, Colleen’s life and future were viciously taken from her. She was ripped away from her family and friends without warning. We weren't given the chance to say good-bye and our lives have not since, and will never again, be the same.”  

This case is a success for the Syracuse Police Department's two-year-old cold case unit, that still has 89 unsolved murders in it’s files according to Police Chief Frank Fowler.

"I hope that this case serves and example to those  out there who decide to commit such an act in the city of Syracuse, and let them know that it doesn’t matter how long it takes, we’re going to continue to investigate these kinds of crimes till we bring them to a successful conclusion."

Meadow will be brought back to Syracuse for arraignment later this month.