Detectives Use DNA Evidence to Look for Other Possible Victims
YAKIMA, Wash-- Yakima Police Officers arrested 56-year-old Clayton Stafford Wednesday. This comes 16 years after he's suspected of murdering Shawna Yandell. Detectives said Stafford has an extensive criminal record of sexual violence. They are looking into the possibility of other victims.
The body of Shawna Yandell was found in the Yakima River by a boy scout troop June 13, 1993. Yandell was last seen alive at Sportsman Park that morning.
The case went cold that year, but detectives reopened it in 2007. DNA pulled from Yandell got a hit from a California DNA data base, it matched Clayton Stafford.
New DNA technology is playing a key role in solving old homicide cases.
"We expect to see more as the database becomes more robust. The other thing you're seeing is that offenders or people who've been convicted falsely are released from prison as a result of DNA evidence," said Chief Sam Granato, Yakima Police Department.
Granato said there appears to be no relationship between Stafford and the victim. Stafford has a criminal history that spans Washington state, but Granato couldn't elaborate at this time.
Yandell's family has since moved away from Yakima and scattered across the US. Detectives are working to contact them at this time and to figure out if Stafford could be responsible for more crimes.