South Australian police believe they have made a breakthrough in the 22-year-old cold case murder of an Adelaide grandmother.
Officers made an arrest of a 45-year old man on Thursday 25 June and he is scheduled to appear in the Adelaide Magistrates Court on Friday.
According to SA Police Assistant Commissioner Peter Harvey, the arrest comes after an ongoing collaboration between Major Crime detectives and forensic experts.
Harvey told reporters the investigation was part of Operation Persist, which investigates unsolved cold cases. “This is what drives the detectives, the South Australian police, to keep going,” he said. “This is 22 years of work.”
Victim was stabbed multiple times in her home
The case relates to the murder of Phyllis Harrison, 71, in March 1998. She was discovered with multiple stab wounds at her home in the suburb of Elizabeth South.
Harvey said the victim had been confronted in her home by an assailant or assailants.
“The house was ransacked and it’s really unclear, even to this day, whether anything was taken,” he said.
“A knife was found nearby, it matched the type of attack that happened, and that is, of course, retained by the police.”
Harrison was last seen walking her dog at 7:30pm the night before her body was discovered by her daughter and grandson.
Discovery was an enormous shock to the family
“You could imagine the shock that a family has, walking into their grandmother’s and mother’s house and finding her deceased, not just from natural causes but stabbed to death,” Harvey stated.
He added that the family had described “unfathomable relief, but also sadness” at the arrest.
Killer ran around free while we were grieving
“It was a great injustice that we lost our mother for 22 years,” Harrison’s son said in an interview given to the media by the family.
“But the other injustice was that [the alleged killer] was running around for 22 years. While we were grieving, he was living his life.”
“She was a beautiful person,” Harrison’s daughter said. “She was caring, loving… she loved her family and the community loved her.”
Police have offered a $200 000 reward for anyone who can provide information that may lead to a conviction over Harrison’s death.