Trial nears for man arrested in decades-old cold case murder of Cherry Hills resident

David Anderson accused of rape and murder of Sylvia Quayle in 1981

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Four decades after a 34-year-old woman was murdered in her Cherry Hills Village home, a suspect will face a second trial for the crime. 

David Anderson, a 63-year-old Nebraska man arrested in February 2021, will stand trial June 26 in Arapahoe County court after a jury failed to reach a verdict during his first trial in early March.

Anderson is accused of raping and murdering Sylvia Quayle in 1981 sometime overnight between Aug. 3 and Aug. 4, according to the Cherry Hills Village Police Department. 

According to a district court affidavit, Quayle's body was found by her father, William Quayle, in her home at 3800 S. Ogden St in Cherry Hills Village.

Police responded to his call of a "woman down" just before 8 a.m. Aug. 4, 1981, and soon found her dead at the scene. Her father told officers he found Quayle's body "lying on the living room floor, nude with her arms above her head" and a white towel covering her face, according to the affidavit.

Police noted that Quayle's hands were covered in blood and  she had red marks on her neck, according to the affidavit. 

An investigation revealed she had been shot with a .22 caliber bullet on top of her head, stabbed three times in her upper back and evidence showed strangulation, the affidavit said. 

The affidavit also notes that Quayle's telephone line appeared to have been ripped out from where it was mounted to the exterior of the house. The house's exterior bathroom wall also had a screen removed and a small, circular hole was discovered in the lower corner in the window screen of Quayle's bedroom. 

The case had been without a suspect for more than 25 years after DNA evidence in 1993 disproved another man's false confession to the crime.

Ottis Toole, an infamous serial killer who had falsely confessed to hundreds of murders across the U.S., was charged with Quayle's assault and murder after he confessed to the crime  two years after it occurred, but never faced trial for it. 

Toole faced two death sentences in the 1980s for other unrelated murders, though he won appeals that changed his sentence to life imprisonment. Toole received four more life sentences for several more murders and died in a state prison in Florida in 1996.

In 2000, a DNA sample of the suspect was submitted to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation but was left unidentified for two more decades. 

In 2020, Cherry Hills Village police began working with Mitch Morrisey, whose company United Data Connect provided the department with genetic genealogy testing, a relatively new technology. 

The company began developing leads for the unidentified DNA sample, which encompassed a pool of more than 3,300 people according to Morrisey. 

Through extensive research and investigation, Morrisey said his team was able to hone in on one suspect. On Jan. 17, 2021, a company investigator traveled to Cozad, Nebraska to secretly collect DNA from Anderson. 

What he recovered were two separate trash bags found in the dumpster for the apartment complex where Anderson lived. About 15 items were tested, with DNA from a Vanilla Coke can matching the sample from the crime scene.

A warrant for Anderson's arrest was soon issued and he was arrested in Nebraska on Feb. 10, 2021.

Michelle Tovrea, who served as Cherry Hills Village's police chief during the investigation and arrest of Anderson, paid respects to Quayle during a Feb. 25, 2021 press conference announcing Anderson's arrest.

"Sylvia's sister and family had the quote 'beauty seen is never lost' etched onto her grave marker, a very fitting reminder of the beautiful person she was," said Tovrea, who retired March 4. 

Quayle is remembered by those she knew as being "ambitious, vibrant, friendly," Tovrea said, adding that she was someone who "would have given her last dollar" to friends who needed it.

A graduate of Englewood High School, Quayle had a colorful palette of jobs and hobbies. She worked as a secretary at an architect firm and enjoyed researching the work of her architect uncle, Wesley Quayle, according to Tovrea. 

She also opened a small bakery known as the Buttery that specialized in wedding cakes. And she had talent as an artist, creating various pottery pieces of flower vases and bowls, many of which reside today in the home of her sister. 

Tovrea said Quayle was known to have had a close and loving relationship with her sister, mother and father, who are both deceased. 

Anderson faces two counts of first-degree murder and will be prosecuted under laws in place when the crime occurred in 1981, according to District Attorney John Kellner, of the 18th Judicial District.

It means that, if convicted, Anderson would still have the chance for parole 20 years into his sentence, something current laws do not allow.

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