Cold Case Files: The Search For David Willoughby's Killer - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Cold Case Files: The Search For David Willoughby's Killer

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The case has gone unsolved for 43 years, but cold case detectives with the Spokane County Sheriff's Office hope the murder of 8-year-old David Willoughby won't remain unsolved for much longer.

"David's memory ends in a tragedy and I want to close that for his family, I do," Detective Kirk Keyser told KHQ's Kelsey Watts. "How can you not have a connection to an innocent 8-year-old little boy?"

Detective Keyser has been working on the case for four years, pouring over two volumes of case files, reports, interviews with witnesses and evidence.

It was September 8, 1970 when Willoughby's older brother and his friend decided to walk from their home to Geiger Field, where kids were commonly given parachutes at the time. Detective Keyser said David and his friend took off after the older children – but stayed behind them by a few minutes. However, David's friend became tired and decided to turn back near Highway 2. David pressed on alone.

"That was the last time David was absolutely, positively seen - not captive, and alive," Detective Keyser added.

Two witnesses later reported seeing David with a man in a green 1959 Nash Rambler Station Wagon. One said David came in to a store with the man, and a woman reported seeing a man fumbling with something in the back seat of the car. When it passed her, she saw a little boy in the back crying and screaming for help.

18 days after his disappearance, David's body was found in the underbrush of the Pend Oreille County Park, just across the county line.

"According to the autopsy, David had been sexually assaulted and strangled," Detective Keyser said. "It appears he was kept alive for 8-10 days after his disappearance."

That behavior leads Keyser to believe David's killer may be linked to other cold cases across the northwest.

But who did it?

For the first nine years, dozens of people were ruled out; however, it wasn't until 1979 someone called in a tip that lead detectives to a person of interest in the case who matched the description of the man with the 1959 wagon. However, he died a year later.

Now, 43 years after David's death, a relative of the person of interest has volunteered to give a DNA sample. Detective Keyser knows a DNA profile of an adult man was collected from the crime scene and now he's hoping this new evidence will help close the case – whether it leads back to that person of interest or someone else.

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