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DNA from relative helped identify man suspected in 1996 Aurora murder

Tangie Sims, 25, was found dead in an Aurora alley in October 1996.
Credit: APD
Tangie Sims

AURORA, Colo. — A man who died in 2008 has been identified as the person who killed a woman in Aurora in 1996, according to the Aurora Police Department.

The body of 25-year-old Tangie Sims was found in an alley in the 1200 block of Iola Street around 8 a.m. on Oct. 24, 1996. She was left there after being violently assaulted and stabbed, APD said.

Using advances in DNA technology, APD detectives found a match and identified Wesley Backman — who was 41 years old at the time of the murder — as the suspect. Backman passed away in 2008. 

Sims was last seen at East Colfax Avenue and Joliet Street walking towards a semi-tractor with a sleeper cab without a trailer attached, APD said at the time.

In addition, they discovered that her killer had cut himself during the attack, and that some of his blood was found at the scene.

Samples of his blood were collected for evidence. Major Crimes Homicide Unit (MCHU) Detectives Steve Conner and Michael Prince said they knew the best chance for solving the case was that blood sample and the advancement of DNA technology.

RELATED: Murder victim's sister 'overwhelmed with emotion' after suspect identified nearly 40 years later

Last year, advancements in DNA combined with genealogical research led to a break in the case with the assistance of United Data Connect. 

A forensic genealogist helped identify a possible suspect by comparing the blood sample to known DNA from a close relative. 

Conner and Prince immediately followed up on the new lead. Their investigation took them to numerous states, where they located a member of the suspect’s immediate family. That family member was cooperative and provided a DNA sample to the detectives, according to APD, which matched Backman.

RELATED: DNA leads Douglas County Sheriff's Office to suspect in 1980 murder of KHOW radio intern

They also learned that Backman had been an over-the-road truck driver and had lived in many different locations throughout the U.S., including Aurora.

Conner and Prince continue to work with other police agencies across the country to determine if Backman is also responsible for additional unsolved homicides.

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