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37-Year-Old Cold Case Closed by Exception, Internal Review Cites Death of Likely Offender

Enough PC to implicate suspect Steven Coombs in murder of Charles Collings

Collings_cropped Coombs offender cropped

Photos: Homicide victim Charles Collings (left) and suspect Steven Coombs. (SLCPD file photos)

SALT LAKE CITY — After internal review, homicide investigators of the Salt Lake City Police Department have closed a 37-year-old cold case by exception, citing death of the offender.

The case is the homicide of Charles R. Collings, 50, whose body was found in a field at 454 W. 200 S. on August 23, 1976. A homicide investigator had been reviewing the case for material to be processed with current DNA techniques, a task made possible by a federal grant. Although no suitable material was found, the investigator’s review of the casebook found enough probable cause (PC) to implicate Steven Coombs.

Some of the PC comes from statements made by a witness, Wilford Murphy, who provided the information months after Collings’ body was found. Murphy died in 1992.

Last week the lead investigator screened the case with SLCPD’s homicide unit, which unanimously agreed the case should be “exceptionally closed” given the death of the likely offender. They cited information by Murphy, agreeing his statements were consistent with evidence and truthful.

Since the suspect died in 2012, the case will not be formally screen with the District Attorney’s Office.

Contact: Reporters seeking comment should contact the Public Information Officer at 801.799.NEWS (6397). Reporters seeking contact with victim family members should contact the PIO.

 

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