Gum-chewing ‘survey’ leads to homeless man’s arrest in 1976 killing
After three decades, two police interviews and separate DNA samples failed to link a Washington transient to a killing in Maine in 1976, authorities said asking him to chew a piece of gum was what brought him to justice.
In a ruse meant to collect DNA from Gary Sanford Raub, 63, Seattle police offered the local fixture gum as part of a “gum-chewing survey,” the Portland Press Herald reported.
With Raub’s DNA in hand, detectives say, they matched him to a piece of blood evidence recovered from the scene of Blanche Kimball’s slaying 36 years ago, according to a court document reviewed by the Press Herald.
“These cases never go away,” Jared Mills, deputy chief for Maine State Police, said at a news conference Tuesday. “This is something that we always work.... It’s always going to be on our radar and on our plate to do, that’s our job. This is a 36-year-old case that we didn’t give up on.”
Kimball, 70, was a retired dental technician and practical nurse who never married and had no children, the Press Herald reported. She was known to take in boarders, and was stabbed to death in her home.
Raub lived with Kimball before the slaying and was considered a suspect at the time, but there was not enough evidence to hold him.
In 2011, Raub reappeared on police radar when he was implicated in a nonfatal stabbing that year in Seattle.
Just how Maine State Police became aware of him was unclear, but cold case detectives reexamined blood at the scene of the slaying and found it partially matched Raub’s DNA profile from the 2011 stabbing. The gum-chewing survey was conducted in July, giving police a complete DNA profile and setting the stage for Raub’s arrest.
On Monday, Seattle and Maine police converged on Raub as he sat on the sidewalk not far from the University of Washington.
Raub is charged with murder and is being held on $1.5 million bail. He’s expected to appear in court by the end of the week for an extradition hearing.
“Blanche died in 1976 and her story needed to be told,” Maine State Police Lt. Chris Coleman said at the news conference. “And if we can hold somebody accountable for that death, that’s what we need to do no matter how long it takes.”
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