Midstate Mysteries: New DNA technology may help track down a killer in 1987 Nashville cold case | News

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) – New DNA technology may help track down a cold case killer from more than thirty years ago.

The focus of the murder investigation centers on cigarette butts from the 1980s.

The Kroger where the deadly shooting happened is still there.

A woman by the name of Carolyn Phillips finished up her grocery shopping and was escorted to her car by a worker. Soon after, she ran into trouble.

“She started blowing the horn to try and draw attention,” Detective Matthew Filter with the Metro Nashville Police Department said.

Phillips drew attention to the man who pointed a gun at her and tried to rob her outside an East Nashville Kroger. It didn’t work.

Carolyn Phillips was gunned down at 7:30 p.m. on June 8, 1987. Detective Filter now serves as one of the only people pushing for answers in her case.

“There was just nobody to really speak out for Carolyn Phillips and it was just kind of left up to the police department,” Detective Filter said.

That’s why you won’t see a picture of Phillips.

“When they processed the crime scene, they found several cigarette butts over in this area. It would be a likely belief that he threw down one of those cigarette butts,” Detective Filter said.

Police submitted those cigarette butts to the TBI, but in the 1980s, it was limited to what could be done.

“Because of the technology, the profiles were pretty weak and never did connect to anyone in particular,” Detective Filter said.

Now the evidence has been resubmitted. This time it was sent to Metro’s own crime lab. They hope to get the results back within a year.

“The DNA alone is not something that we necessarily are going to be able to go out and make an arrest just strictly off a DNA match,” Detective Filter said.

The detective said it will be an extremely strong lead to build a case against someone.

How far has DNA come since the 80s?

Police said it went from developing a profile to compare to other profiles, to now, figuring out specific characteristics of a person like race, skin tone, along with eye and hair color.

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