By DAVID MARTIN
Publisher 

DNA testing leads to cold case arrest

 

Green River Star file image

A sketch of Bitter Creek Betty and the tattoo on her body released by the Sweetwater County Sheriff's Office in 1992.

An Iowa man was arrested last week in conjunction with several cold case investigations occurring in Wyoming and Tennessee, leading to charges in the murder of a woman known only as "Bitter Creek Betty."

Clark Perry Baldwin, 59, of Waterloo, Iowa, was arrested May 6 at his home by agents from the FBI and Wyoming DCI and investigators from the 22nd Judicial District Attorney's Office in Tennessee. Baldwin is charged with first degree murder in Sweetwater and Sheridan counties, as well as two counts of first degree murder in Tennessee related to the 1991 deaths of Pamela McCall and her unborn child. The charges in Sweetwater County were filed April 22.

When she was originally discovered, Bitter Creek Betty's body was found nude and was believed to have been deposited near the westbound lane of Interstate 80 either a few weeks or a few months prior to her discovery.

According to court documents filed in Sweetwater County, the body was discovered March 1, 1992, by a truck driver stopped 40 miles east of Rock Springs, near Interstate 80. Two autopsies were conducted on the body, which concluded the woman died after receiving trauma to the neck, face and jaw which was consistent with strangulation. The exact cause of death was determined to be a puncture wound in the victim's left nostril, which penetrated into the woman's brain.


The body was fingerprinted by the Wyoming State Crime Laboratory and her prints were distributed to all 50 states, but investigators were unable to identify the woman.

On April 13, 1992, WYDOT workers discovered a second body in Sheridan County located in a ditch off of the eastbound lane of Interstate 90, approximately 15 miles from Sheridan. The body was partially mummified and was also unable to be identified, leading investigators to refer to her as the "I-90 Jane Doe." The woman was determined to be two and a half month's pregnant at the time of her death an autopsy, while unable to determine the exact cause of death, revealed the woman had suffered a blow to the head. Swabs of semen and other bodily fluids were collected from the bodies, which were found to contain a partial DNA profile of the alleged perpetrator.


In January 2007, samples taken from both crime scenes were analyzed by the state crime lab and revealed a full DNA profile of the alleged perpetrator, which was then entered into several databases.

In April of 2012, the state laboratory conducted a keyboard search of the suspect's DNA profile, which resulted in a match to the Sweetwater County victim, tying the same suspect to the two incidents.

In May of 2019, the state was notified of a hit on the Combined DNA Index System out of Tennessee. An investigator had reopened the 1991 Pamela McCall homicide case and submitted sample swabs taken from the body to the Tennessee Crime Laboratory. When the DNA profile from the samples was uploaded to the system, it matched the DNA found with the two Wyoming homicides.


In June 2019, DCI investigators traveled to Tennessee to share information about the Wyoming homicides and evidence from the Tennessee homicide was shared with the Wyoming State Crime Laboratory for testing.

According to court documents the tests revealed a distinct male profile that matched the Wyoming samples. Information from the Tennessee investigation also suggested the suspect was a truck driver. The sample was also submitted to commercial DNA testing labs primarily used for personal genealogical tracing and ancestry profiling.

A list of people possibly related to the suspect was generated from these databases Based on leads generated from Investigative Genetic Genealogy, Baldwin was indicated as a potential suspect.

Investigation into Baldwin revealed he had been arrested for sexual assault in Wheeler County, Texas in 1991. During a separate 1992 homicide investigation in Chickasaw County, Iowa, Baldwin's ex-wife claimed he once boasted about "killing a girl out west by strangulation and throwing her out of his truck."

On April 9, 2020, surveillance of Baldwin was conducted and investigators recovered two trash bags from a dumpster near his home. They also watched him at Wal-Mart and took fingerprint samples from the shopping cart he used. The Waterloo, Iowa FBI Task Force sent those items to the Wyoming State Crime Laboratory, which tested the articles and matched Baldwin's DNA to the suspect DNA from the Tennessee and Wyoming investigations.

 

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