CHISHOLM, Minn. — A Chisholm man was arrested Wednesday, July 29, by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the Chisholm Police Department on the suspicion of the 1986 killing of Nancy Daugherty.
Michael Allan Carbo Jr., 52, was taken into custody and booked into the St. Louis County Jail in Virginia, Minn., on probable cause of second-degree murder, according to a BCA news release.
Bureau agents and Chisholm police investigators arrested Carbo after receiving confirmation from the BCA laboratory that Carbo’s DNA matched DNA from the crime scene on the 34-year-old case.
Nancy Daugherty was last seen alive just after midnight on July 16, 1986. She'd been out with a friend and was planning to move to the Twin Cities the following day. Her friend arrived at the house the next day to help move some furniture, but Daugherty didn't answer the door or phone. Eventually the friend and a neighbor called the Chisholm Police Department. Officers conducted a welfare check and found Daugherty dead inside her home. The 38-year-old mother of two had been beaten, sexually assaulted and strangled. Evidence at the scene indicated that a struggle had occurred both outside and inside the home. Witnesses later reported hearing a woman screaming in the early morning hours.
Bureau scientists were able to obtain a full DNA suspect profile from bodily fluids found on the victim at the scene, but the DNA did not match any persons in the criminal database.
Periodic case reviews occurred over the years, but none led to a solid lead in the case and no DNA matches were found.
Earlier this year, the Chisholm Police Department approached the BCA about providing a DNA sample to Parabon, a company which analyzes public genealogy databases and helps law enforcement programs identify case leads. The BCA laboratory coordinated with the company to provide a DNA sample from the decades-old evidence. Based on their analysis and search, Parabon identified Carbo as a potential suspect in the case in July.
BCA agents and Chisholm investigators began surveillance of Carbo last week and surreptitiously obtained DNA evidence that was sent to the BCA laboratory for analysis. On Monday, the BCA laboratory reported a DNA match to the bodily fluids found on the victim and at the scene. Wednesday morning, investigators obtained a DNA sample directly from Carbo with his consent. The swab was flown down to the BCA laboratory and provided confirmation later in the afternoon of a DNA match.
“We are gratified to be able to provide some answers to this family and this community after all of these years,” Chisholm Police Chief Vern Manner said in the release. “We are grateful as well to the BCA and so many assisting law enforcement agencies that continued to work this case over more than three decades.”
“This case illustrates why no case is ever cold for us,” BCA Superintendent Drew Evans said. “Every time we hit a dead end, investigators and scientists go back to the drawing board. Solving this case is proof of the value of tenacious work — even when it’s over a span of decades.”
St. Louis County Attorney's office stated it planned to file charges Thursday morning out of the Hibbing courthouse. This remains an ongoing and active investigation.
“Our condolences go out to Nancy Daugherty’s family,” said St Louis County Attorney Mark Rubin. “This is a phenomenal example of perseverance and cooperation between law enforcement and our office. The case will be charged and prosecuted by Karl Sundquist and Christopher Florey."
Daugherty was born in Ladysmith, Wisconsin, and grew up in Grand Marais.
She met James Daugherty in Duluth after he was discharged from the Navy. They dated for about a year and a half before getting married in 1975. They moved to Hibbing, where she worked as a nurse's aide at Heritage Manor Health Care Center and as an emergency medical technician for the Chisholm Ambulance Service. She had been accepted to a paramedic school in the Twin Cities at the time of her death.
James Daugherty was in Germany with the Air National Guard when she was killed.
"I got a call that there had been a family emergency and that I needed to return immediately,'' he told the Duluth News Tribune in 2001. "It took two days to get home. I was the last to know.''
The prolonged investigation led to a series of rumors in the small Iron Range community.
"The rumors ranged from me hiring someone to kill her to someone drifting through town to everything in between,'' James Daugherty said.
At a press conference at the Minnesota Discovery Center Wednesday evening, Manner read a written statement from Daugherty's daughter Gina.
"My mom loved to help people," the statement read. "Everyone who knew her will say the same. She loved to take care of people and loved her family until 1986 when she was taken from us. There are no words to describe the terrible holes that were left in so many lives, including my own."
Gina's statement cited her mother missing many milestone life events including Gina's wedding, the births of Daugherty's grandkids and everyday occurrences like phone calls.
"There are also no words of gratitude strong enough for all who have contributed to solving this case over the years," the statement read. "After 30 plus years I had to start wondering if I'd ever know."
The statement went on to remind families dealing with similar cases to "never give up hope, because your day like this could be just around the corner."