Man arrested in Kansas in 1980 Minneapolis murder - KMSP-TV

Man arrested in Kansas in 1980 Minneapolis murder

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Robert WIlliam Skogstad Robert WIlliam Skogstad
MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) -

Minneapolis police have announced an arrest in the 32-year-old cold case murder of a young woman.

Police in Kansas arrested 57-year-old Robert William Skogstad last week in the 1980 murder of a 22-year-old Minneapolis woman. She was found stabbed to death in her apartment on the corner of 36th Street and Girard Avenue South.

Minneapolis Police Capt. Amelia Huffman said homicide investigators first began looking into the disappearance of Mary Catherine Stienhardt when didn't show up for work one day in November of 1980.

When the victim's sister entered the apartment, she found Stienhardt dead on the floor in the bedroom. Her body was bloodied and there was pool of blood on the floor. A pillow was covering her face. 

"When the medical examiner did the autopsy, he found that she had been brutally assaulted, stabbed multiple times," Huffman said. "She had injuries on her head, her face, her neck, chest and abdomen."

The investigators at the time put together a picture of Stienhardt's movements and talked with her friends and family, but the leads faded and the case went cold.

In 2001, evidence from the crime scene was submitted to the Minnesota BCA for new DNA analysis. Unfortunately, at the time, the DNA profile returned to investigators didn't match any known offenders in Minnesota, so the cold case went back into the archives.

In 2010, Sgt. Barb Moe was working on a cold case project when she took the files out of the archives and found additional DNA samples that had not been tested at the BCA lab. She submitted those samples and additional profiles were recovered.

Those profiles were put against local and national databases and a match was made to an offender by the name of Robert William Skogstad. He had been entered into the national sex offender database because of a sexual assault conviction in California, and his profile matched DNA evidence recovered from Mary Catherine Stienhardt's body.

"At the time they did a good job of collecting evidence -- it just wasn't useful 30 years ago," Huffman said.

Sgt. Moe traveled to Kansas and interviewed Skogstad, who denied knowing the victim and denied being familiar with the apartment building; however, police say Skogstad lived near the building and worked as its caretaker prior to the murder.

The landlord of the building told FOX 9 News he had fired Skogstad before the murder, but can't remember why.

"I don't remember anymore," Robert Haugh said, saying he usually terminated employees "because they don't do the job."

Despite Skogstad's denial of his involvement, Moe continued to work the case until the murder charges were filed.

"For over 20 years, justice has been delayed in this case and it will not be denied," Huffman said. "Mary Catherine's family and friends have been waiting for more than 20 years to find out what happened to her and now Mr. Skogstad will finally go to court to answer those questions."

Skogstad is currently in custody in Kansas City, held on $1 million bond and awaiting extradition to Minnesota. He is married and has been working in Kansas. 

Skogstad has an extensive criminal history and has served time in prison for burglary, rape and counterfeiting.

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