“Gum Chewing Survey” Nabs Murder Suspect 36 Years Later

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A simple ruse conducted by an undercover Seattle detective has nabbed a suspected murderer 36 years after the horrific crime. Police used a DNA sample collected from a fake “chewing gum survey” to link a Seattle homeless man to the 1976 murder of a 70-year-old woman, the Seattle Times reported on Tuesday.

Gary Sanford Raub, who was an initial suspect in the killing of Maine woman Blanche M. Kimball, was fooled into providing a DNA sample to local law enforcement officers when he was asked to participate in a seemingly innocuous chewing gum survey, according to the Seattle Times. Raub, who had been boarding in Kimball’s house, spoke to police twice during the original investigation into the murder but denied involvement, the Kennebec Journal notes. Kimball, whom the Daily Mail describes as a retired dental technician, died of hemorrhaging in her Augusta home after suffering lacerations and multiple stab wounds to the heart, according to the Kennebec Journal. Raub left Maine soon after the murder and ultimately found his way to Seattle.

The Kennebec Journal says police suspicions about Raub, now 63, were revived when he was accused of stabbing a fellow homeless man in October 2011. Tests matched DNA from Raub’s chewing gum to samples found in Kimball’s kitchen and on the knife handle from the October stabbing, the Kennebec Journal reports. A contingent of Seattle, Augusta and Maine State officers arrested Raub on Monday night and charged him with Kimball’s murder.

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Prosecutors in King County, Wash., told the Seattle Times that Raub has had a criminal record since age 16. He will likely be extradited to Maine to face the murder charges, but right now he is being held as a fugitive from justice in King County Jail, according to the Times.

Maine police described the Kimball case to the Kennebec Journal as “the oldest unsolved homicide case to result in charges in state history.”

“This case has been worked over for over three decades,” Maine State police spokesman Steve McCausland told the Seattle Times. “The DNA was significant in bringing the case to this point.”

Seattle police spokesman Sgt. Sean Whitcomb declined to discuss specific details of the arrest with the Times.

Raub may have been unwittingly duped by the chewing gum trick, but a Seattle University law professor told the Times that courts typically rule that DNA samples collected in public places are not covered by the Fourth Amendment’s protections against unreasonable search and seizure and are therefore generally legal. Indeed, the Supreme Court ruled in the United States v. Dionisio that individuals do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their personal characteristics, so police can lawfully require DNA, voice examplars, fingerprints and other samples. Thirty-six years later and thousands of miles away from the scene of the crime, Raub will now have to face the justice system about his alleged role in Kimball’s brutal killing.
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