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Man ID'd via DNA database found guilty in 1986 Minnesota slaying

A jury in Hibbing reached the verdict Tuesday in the case of Michael Carbo Jr., more than 36 years after Nancy Daugherty was raped and killed.

Michael Carbo
Michael Carbo
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HIBBING, Minn. — A Minnesota man has been found guilty of raping and murdering a woman 36 years ago, after he was linked to the crimes via his DNA in a private database.

A Hibbing jury reached the verdict Tuesday in the case of Michael Allan Carbo Jr. of Chisholm, Minnesota, who was arrested and charged in 2020 with the 1986 slaying of Nancy Daugherty.

Nancy Daugherty
Nancy Daugherty

The verdict, on two counts of first-degree murder, comes after roughly nine hours of deliberation across two days. Carbo now faces mandatory life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

Carbo, now 54, was just 18 at the time of Daugherty's death. The 38-year-old mother of two was found dead in her bed on July 16, 1986, having been sexually assaulted and strangled.

Carbo, who lived within a mile of the victim, did not have any known relationship with Daugherty. He was never a suspect until the Chisholm Police Department contracted with a genetic genealogist to compare crime scene DNA samples against those in privately maintained databases and develop a profile of the suspected killer.

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DNA from several sources at the crime scene, including semen, were conclusively shown to be a match with Carbo. His DNA was also found under Daugherty's fingernails, and authorities said there were signs of a struggle both inside and outside the house.

Defense attorney J.D. Schmid did not dispute the DNA evidence, but maintained that his client engaged in consensual sex with Daugherty before she was killed by another person. While barred from explicitly naming an alternative perpetrator, he strong implied that it was a friend of Daugherty's, who knew she was alone and became jealous after seeing her with Carbo.

But St. Louis County prosecutor Jon Holets told jurors that Daugherty's rape and murder were "intertwined," with no other "credible physical evidence" at the scene to point to a different killer.


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Carbo was indicted in April on two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct while committing or attempting first-degree criminal sexual conduct.

One count alleged he committed the crime while causing a "reasonable fear of imminent great bodily harm" to Daugherty; the other involved causing personal injury during the commission.

Judge Robert Friday instructed jurors Monday that they didn't need to find that Carbo intentionally killed Daugherty — only that he caused her death during the course of intentional sexual penetration.

The trial started Aug. 1 with individual jury selection. The panel heard five days of testimony last week from Daugherty's family, friends and neighbors; law enforcement, and medical and forensic experts. Carbo did not take the stand or call any witnesses.

The jury got the case shortly before 3 p.m. Monday, retiring for the day at 5:30 p.m. They resumed at 9 a.m. Tuesday, asking the judge at midday for definitions of the terms "probable cause," "proof" and "capricious." Friday said he could not provide additional context and referred jurors back to their written instructions.

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Minnesota has its share of extreme weather: the Halloween blizzard of 1991, The Red River flooding of 1997, the Twin Cities tornado outbreak of 1965, the Comfrey-St. Peter tornado outbreak in 1998 and the 1999 'Boundary Waters Blowdown.'

Tom Olsen has covered crime and courts for the Duluth News Tribune since 2013. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth and a lifelong resident of the city. Readers can contact Olsen at 218-723-5333 or tolsen@duluthnews.com.
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