Spokane legislation enforcement utilised fingerprint and DNA proof to crack a 40-year-previous South Hill cold case killing

Nov. 11—Fingerprint and DNA evidence led authorities previous month to arrest the suspected killer of Archie Rutherford, who was slain 40 yrs ago in his South Hill household, in accordance to court docket paperwork.

Spokane Police Section detectives and Los Angeles Police Section officers arrested 62-calendar year-old Tracy S. Pruitt Oct. 27 in Los Angeles, exactly where he lives.

Police made no arrests in the four decades pursuing Rutherford’s loss of life. But in October 2020, the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office environment Forensic Unit advised Spokane law enforcement they had a match to a fingerprint recovered from Rutherford’s motor vehicle, which was stolen and learned in downtown Spokane hours following Rutherford was found dead.

Police lifted fingerprints from the stolen Honda in 1982, but the prints did not recognize anybody at the time.

Earlier this calendar year, the Washington Condition Patrol Criminal offense Lab decided that blood from Rutherford’s kitchen submitted to the lab in April belonged to an unidentified male, courtroom data claimed. The DNA from the blood was then entered into the Combined DNA Index Process (CODIS), the databases of acknowledged DNA profiles managed by the FBI. The DNA profile matched Pruitt.

Rutherford’s wife, Eleanor Rutherford, identified her husband lifeless in a bedroom of their household at 1207 E. 27th Ave. on Spokane’s South Hill, in the late afternoon of May well 25, 1982.

She had just returned from a weekend vacation in the Seattle location.

She informed police she expected her partner to fulfill her at the airport but he in no way arrived. A good friend picked her up and took her residence. She found her eco-friendly 1979 Honda was absent, newspapers ended up piled up at the entrance door and a towel was exterior the unlocked door.

An officer uncovered the stolen Honda about eight hrs right after she reported obtaining her husband dead.

Police uncovered Archie Rutherford dead on a mattress and the assault “plainly commenced and ended” in the bedroom.

Blood lined his head and neck, and it was also found on the bedding and partitions. A detective noticed some cuts on the back of Archie’s remaining fingers and forearm, which could have been defensive wounds, files explained.

A moveable television rested against his confront with the twine wrapped all-around his neck. Pieces of a damaged glass decanter, which police believe that was damaged about Rutherford, ended up noticeable near his head and back again.

Law enforcement located a piece of a forged-iron pan under his physique and one more piece on the flooring of the bedroom. Eleanor Rutherford discovered a cast-iron pan on the stove that was damaged and lacking section of its sidewall. She also observed blood and hair on the pan, which a detective collected as proof.

Eleanor Rutherford, who died in 1996, instructed police she also found bloody knives on the eating room tables.

An autopsy established Archie Rutherford died from many stab wounds, which includes the severing of his larynx and jugular. He also had a skull fracture and mind hemorrhage, according to documents.

Rutherford was possible knocked unconscious by a blow to the head prior to he was continuously stabbed to the left aspect of the head and neck, Spokane County Coroner Lois Shanks instructed The Spokesman-Review at the time. She claimed he was very likely asleep when the assault begun.

Law enforcement said in files that a bloody knife with a bent blade recovered in the kitchen area was most likely the weapon made use of to stab Rutherford. They reported they imagine the damaged cast-iron frying pan induced the blunt-force trauma to Rutherford’s head.

In a walkthrough of the household with law enforcement, Eleanor Rutherford noted stolen items, together with the Honda, keys to the dwelling and auto, her husband’s wallet, which incorporated credit history cards, and a 19-inch shade tv established.

She advised police other merchandise have been out of location in the dwelling. She mentioned steak knives have been identified on the dining space desk rather of in a kitchen drawer the glass liquor decanter scattered in parts around her husband’s overall body was normally in the hallway cigarette butts and ash ended up dumped in the toilet and her jewelry packing containers have been rummaged via in her bedroom.

Police wrote in paperwork the stolen items reveal theft was a possible motive in the killing. They reported the amount of money of “too much violence” made use of indicated a amount of rage far more commonly discovered in domestic violence cases. Nevertheless, the police consider Archie Rutherford did not know Pruitt.

A resident and the supervisor at the Myrtle Flats, which adjoins the ton the place the Honda was observed, instructed law enforcement they 1st found the vehicle in the lot involving 6:30 and 7 am Could 25. Law enforcement established Rutherford brought the Honda in for repairs May perhaps 24 to Pontiac Town, the recent dwelling of Findlay Lexus of Spokane, on West 3rd Avenue. The auto was retrieved right before midday the identical working day.

A good friend of Rutherford advised police he experienced breakfast with him at The Shack restaurant, about 3 blocks west of Pontiac Metropolis, even though the Honda was currently being serviced. The pal observed Rutherford again around 9:05 pm at Rutherford’s do the job, The Trade Winds Motel. The handle is now the Baymont by Wyndham Spokane on the corner of 3rd Avenue and Lincoln Street off Interstate 90.

The final sighting of Rutherford might have been by a Spokane police officer who considered to have observed him driving the automobile close to 11:30 pm Might 24 by the Myrtle Flats.

Pruitt’s title initial appeared in the murder investigation on June 26, 1982, about a thirty day period following the killing, according to files. His identify was prepared on a couple of checks that ended up allegedly payment for Rutherford’s credit score playing cards, according to files.

On Sept. 29, 1982, a gentleman involved in the credit history card transaction became informed credit cards he purchased ended up involved in a murder and turned nervous he would be tied to the murder.

A few of months earlier on July 8, 1982, a lady informed Spokane law enforcement at Higher Bridge Park that Pruitt, who was an acquaintance of hers, was driving her 1972 Ford Galaxy when she obtained out of the car or truck to go to the lavatory. Pruitt and the car were long gone when she returned, she advised law enforcement. The motor vehicle was located afterwards that thirty day period deserted in Grinnell, Iowa.

Pruitt was arrested later that 12 months in Ohio on suspicion of numerous counts of rape, theft, kidnapping and assault that evidently stemmed from an incident on July 31, 1982, according to documents. The victims appeared to have been two women who did not know Pruitt.

Pruitt pleaded responsible to a few counts of aggravated robbery and 3 counts of rape.

He was sentenced shortly immediately after to up to 50 decades in prison, in accordance to files. Spokane law enforcement stated in its launch Wednesday Pruitt spent 27 decades in jail.

Courtroom documents claimed a court docket determined Pruitt to be a “sexual predator.”

Pruitt stays in custody in California awaiting extradition, police mentioned.

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