Blood on doorknob leads police to the arrest of cold case killer 40 years later

Minneapolis police have announced a breakthrough in a cold-case murder and assault from 1984, thanks to advancements in DNA technology. The suspect, Matthew Russell Brown, 66, has been charged with second-degree murder with intent, first-degree burglary, and assault. The crime took place on July 17, 1984, when Brown would have been 27 years old. The case had remained unsolved for nearly four decades, but recent DNA analysis has provided crucial evidence leading to the arrest.

On that fateful night, officers responded to a distress call from an apartment building. Two adult females, one injured and the other distraught, reported being attacked by an unknown male wielding a knife. Upon entering the apartment, officers discovered the lifeless body of Robert Miller, who had succumbed to multiple stab wounds. The suspect had fled the scene, leaving behind a bloody trail leading to the back door.

For years, the Minneapolis Police Department’s investigation had hit a dead end due to a lack of substantial leads. However, in 2018, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) managed to develop a DNA profile from blood collected at the crime scene. They used blood that was on the kitchen floor and on one of the doorknobs.

Investigators collaborated with a genealogist to narrow down the list of potential suspects, ultimately identifying Matthew Russell Brown as a person of interest. Obtaining a DNA sample from Brown proved challenging, but in March 2023, police were able to collect a disposable plastic cup he had used, providing the crucial evidence needed to tie him to the crime.

Last month, Minneapolis police, in conjunction with FBI agents, interviewed Brown, who was residing in Illinois at the time. The MPD’s Cold Case Task Force worked closely with the BCA Forensics Lab for over eight years to successfully identify the DNA found at the crime scene. This collaborative effort was what led them to Brown.

The department expressed their satisfaction with the resolution of this long-standing case, emphasizing the importance of perseverance and collaboration in solving such crimes. The use of advanced DNA technology has proven instrumental in cracking this cold case, offering hope for future investigations.