Arrest Made in 1981 Cold Case Murder of Sylvia Quayle Thanks to DNA Found on Vanilla Coke Can, Police Say

David Dwayne Anderson of Nebraska was charged with sexual assault and murder of Sylvia Quayle.
Cherry Hills Village Police Department

Colorado police used DNA evidence they said was found on a can of Vanilla Coke to arrest a man they said is linked to the decades-long cold case killing of Sylvia Quayle.

An arrest has been made in the decades-old killing of Sylvia Quayle after Colorado police said they used DNA evidence found on a can of Vanilla Coke to make a break in the cold case. 

David Dwayne Anderson of Nebraska was charged with sexual assault and murder in the 1981 killing of Sylvia Quayle, according to the Cherry Hills Village Police Department

Quayle was found dead in her home by her father on the morning of Aug. 3, 1981. She was nude and had been strangled, stabbed and shot, according to reports. Quayle was sexually assaulted before she was killed, police said. She was 34. 

At the time, detectives collected 140 pieces of evidence and said they found a DNA match from a rug that was near her body at the time. Authorities linked the DNA from the rug to a discarded Coke can from Anderson's trash, according to police. 

The police department partnered with United Data Connect, a forensic science company, to trace the DNA.

“When I read this case and realize that her father found her, in the condition that I know she was in, the way that she was left, after being brutalized and killed. I can’t imagine, as a father myself of a young woman about this age, to have a morning like that," said Mitch Morrissey, the company's chief of operations and former Denver District Attorney.

"Some people who want answers, who need closure, don't get it," he said, in an acknowledgment of Quayle's father who passed away.

Anderson was taken into custody in Nebraska on Feb. 10 and is awaiting extradition back to Colorado. Anderson was charged under the laws that were in place at the time Quayle was killed. If found guilty, Anderson could face life in prison with a possibility of parole after 20 years, police said during a press conference. If Anderson was found guilty of Quayle's killing under today's laws, he would face an automatic life sentence, officials said.