Oldest solved cold case?

The oldest solved cold case was widely believed to have been the murder of Maria Ridulph, but it turned out the man they eventually found and convicted in 2012 for her murder was exonerated, released, and officially declared innocent in 2017.

In about ten minutes of Googling I’ve been able to find this article about the murder of Wendy Jo Halison, solved after 48 years.

Then I found this one about the murder of Loren Sundholm, solved after 51 years, but the suspect died in 2009.

Is there an older one?

Didn’t they prove that Napoleon was poisoned in exile based on analysis of his hair over a century later? I guess the actual perpetrator would be hard to nail down.

As I recall they’re pretty sure the “Ice man” found frozen in the alps met with foul play, though they certainly have no suspects and I’m not even sure murder was a crime back then

But at least you’ve been exonerated, right, OldGuy? :smiley:

It’s likely that he was poisoned by toxic chemicals in the wallpaper, and was just one of many victims.


OP: do you have any restrictions?

For example there have been a lot of death bed confessions. So the crime is solved but the perp is not punished. Or other cases where the crime is solved after the perp is dead (his wife comes forward then…). Or do you want to limit it to cases where the perp is tried and convicted?

Not really any restrictions, but we can’t go on a deathbed confession alone, there would have to be corroborating evidence. I’m satisfied as long as investigators and/or officials are convinced that they know who the perp is and have enough evidence to be able to present a plausible and compelling case to a jury, even if it was actually heard by a jury and the prosecution lost (see: OJ Simpson; he won his defense, but c’mon, we all know he did it). The perp does not need to have been successfully prosecuted.

IIRC there’s a History Channel documentary wherein a modern forensicist concludes that Queen Cleopatra’s poisoning in the time of Caesar Augustus was not a suicide.

The Romanovs (the family that ruled Russia before the Communist revolution) were murdered in 1917. While there was no real doubt what happened to them, it wasn’t until 1993 that an actual, official investigation took place and made an official proclamation of the murder and (generally) how it took place, and who all was involved.

76 years.

The History Channel is the TV equivalent of a tabloid newspaper. I think you need a better cite.

That said, hasn’t the Jack the Ripper mystery been solved like a dozen or so times? :smiley:

He was shot in the back with an arrow while fleeing the authorities. So they claim in a cave drawing filed at the time… :smiley:

Right, if they say Cleopatra didn’t off her self, you can safely assume she did.

Nitpick: A body was missing from the Romanov grave! — It might have been Anastasia’s:

However, at about the same time it was demonstrated with DNA that the impostor Anastasia was NOT the Grand Duchess. I found it interesting that the mtDNA chosen for comparison with the alleged Anastasia was taken from Phillip Duke of Edinburgh, husband of Elizabeth Dei Gratia.

One good candidate for very old solved case — though solution is still not generally accepted — involves the authorship of a certain 1609 book of poetry. The dedication of the book makes it clear that the poet was deceased in 1609. The poet’s identity, though known to dozens, was an official secret and the knowledge was allowed to dwindle away. The author was finally re-indentified in 1920, over three centuries later!

Nitpick: the title for Maria and Anastasia is Tsarevna, which is often translated as “Grand Duchess”, but apparently a closer translation would be “Royal Princess” and means that they’re the Tsar’s daughters. Tsarevitch is the title for the male heir.

Yes, interesting that Prince Philip’s mtDNA was used. His grandmother and Tsarina Alexandra were sisters, so the Romanov children were his mother’s first cousins.

While this is just speculation, if the body is missing I would suspect that all that tells us is that the 17 year old girl was separated out, by the young male soldiers, and dealt with differently than the rest. I wouldn’t take it as a glimmer of hope that she survived. I’d take it as a gruesome reminder that it’s always possible to be a little bit more evil.

Interesting stuff, although I might point out that the Sundholm case was far from proven. The newly pointed out evidence was purely circumstantial. I think they got it right but it might not have proven the case in court.


Here’s another 51 year old cold case solved earlier this year. The probable killer is dead; the victim, Louise Pietrewicz, was missing since 1966 and her remains were found buried in his basement and identified this March.

Well, that’s pretty bogus, as they have never found her tomb.

This isn’t quite so old, but recent:

Wendy Jo Halison's murderer was dead 4 years by the time the case was solved, according to OP article. (1968-2017 - 49 years)