The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office said this week it has cracked a 32-year-old murder and sexual assault case, obtaining a confession from a bedridden man investigators tracked down at an Iberville Parish nursing home after a routine review of cold cases turned up a genetic match.
Donnie London, 60, was arrested and booked on a charge of first-degree murder in the killing and sexual assault of Elma Kolman, a 73-year-old Jefferson woman whose body was found in a vacant lot near her Monticello Avenue home on April 7, 1984.
London, who lived near Kolman at the time, has a criminal history including 11 felony arrests for rape, burglary and narcotics violations, with convictions for drug and burglary charges, Sheriff’s Office spokesman Col. John Fortunato said.
Kolman, who was often seen by neighbors walking around the neighborhood, was reported missing the day before her body was discovered. An autopsy found she died of asphyxia and strangulation and suffered traumatic injuries while being sexually assaulted.
Investigators’ leads went nowhere, and the search for her killer eventually stalled.
The path that led police to London more than three decades later began Dec. 29, when Capt. Dennis Thornton was conducting a routine review of cold cases and found that the genetic profile of her attacker the Sheriff’s Office Crime Lab had created from a piece of Kolman’s clothing matched London’s DNA, which had been entered in federal law enforcement databases since the crime.
Thornton then began searching for London and found him at the nursing home at 59215 River West Drive in Plaquemine. He also discovered that London lived at a Gen. Ogden Street address in New Orleans that was close to Kolman’s home in Jefferson at the time she was killed.
A warrant was issued for London’s arrest, and Thornton and Sgt. Jeffery Rodrigue went to Plaquemine, where London was read his rights and confessed Wednesday, Fortunato said.
Fortunato said London told investigators he saw Kolman walking near the vacant lot in the 300 block of Monticello the day she was killed and tried to rob her. When she resisted, he raped and killed her.
He was transported from Plaquemine to the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center.
Follow Chad Calder on Twitter, @Chad_Calder.