DNA match leads to arrest in cold case homicide from 1995

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WASATCH COUNTY, Utah -- Nearly 20 years later, an arrest has been made in a Wasatch County cold case murder.

A teenage prostitute was bludgeoned to death in December of 1995. Police said they’ve found her killer in Florida, and as FOX 13 News learned, court records show he’s killed before.

In 1987, Joseph Simpson pleaded guilty to stabbing a man 13 times in Clearfield. Simpson went to prison for second-degree murder and was paroled in 1995. A few months later, police said he killed 17 year-old Krystal Beslanowitch.

Beslanowitch’s mother burst into tears when police called her about an arrest two days ago.

"She's finally free, you know,” Linde Souders said. “Oh God, I don't know what to say.”

Her daughter left her hometown, Spokane, Washington, in 1995 and came to Salt Lake City.

"She was a runaway who got herself into trouble, she was running around with street people," Souders said.

Beslanowitch battled a drug problem and turned to prostitution in the North Temple area. On December 15, 1995, she went to a convenience store to get something to eat and never returned.

The next day, farmers discovered her naked body on the banks of the Provo River in Midway. She was beaten to death with rocks.

"That was the most brutal way to kill somebody," Souders said in disgust.

"The investigation took place for two years and eventually ran dry," Wasatch County Sheriff Todd Bonner said of the case.

In the mid-2000s the case resurfaced after advancements in DNA technology. Cops said partial DNA from the suspect turned up on the river rocks that were used to kill Beslanowitch.

The state crime lab got involved, as did other police agencies. Investigators zeroed in on 46-year-old Joseph Simpson, a paroled, convicted murderer who was never on their radar.

Simpson was unemployed and living with his parents in Sarasota County, Florida for 13 to 14 years. He previously lived in Clearfield, Utah. This year, Florida and Utah cops had Simpson under surveillance outside of a smoke shop.

"He had taken a couple of different puffs of the cigarette and flipped it away from his body, so it was able to be obtained," Bonner said.

It was the final piece of the puzzle. A DNA match, police officials said. Police arrested Simpson, and he’s in a Florida jail facing a potential aggravated murder charge in Utah.

"I'm just very, very glad they got him," Souders said.

"It's case that's haunted me almost my whole career,” added Sheriff Bonner.
“It's closure for me as well."

Police said Simpson has not confessed to the crime but is not fighting extradition back to Utah. He should return to the state within a couple of weeks.

If the Wasatch County Attorney files an aggravated murder charge, the death penalty is on the table, and the victim's mother said she hopes Simpson will be put to death.