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DNA Leads to Charge in 1981 Murder

February 17, 2000

BOSTON (AP) _ Patrick Durham walked away from police custody in 1981 after investigators decided they didn’t have enough evidence to charge him with the brutal stabbing of a 14-year-old girl.

Nearly two decades later, prosecutors said DNA evidence taken from a bandage that had been wrapped around Durham’s hand links him to the killing of Mary Burhoe, who was stabbed more than 100 times.

Durham, 37, pleaded innocent to murder at his arraignment Wednesday. Although he is serving time at the state prison in Norfolk for an unrelated drug conviction, he was ordered held without bail.

Burhoe’s body was found July 11, 1981, in a burning field near the Mystic River.

Witnesses saw Durham the night before demand sex and threaten Burhoe with a knife, said Suffolk County prosecutor David Meier. Burhoe bit Durham on the left thigh and on the right hand during a struggle, he said.

Police arrested Durham the day Burhoe’s body was found, but authorities have said there was not enough evidence to charge him. Police kept the bandage Durham had on his right hand.

That bandage, with the advent of DNA fingerprinting technology, provided a crucial break in the case. Investigators matched blood from the bandage with blood found on the jeans of Burhoe, Meier said.

Defense lawyer Jamie Sultan said they would be taking a close look at the DNA evidence.

``It can be powerful evidence,″ Sultan said. ``It can also be erroneous evidence.″

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