Suspect in 1982 murder back in Carson City
Appeal Staff Writer
RENO – A Trinidadian man was back in Nevada on Thursday to again face a charge of murder in the 1982 killing of a Carson City teen.
David Winfield Mitchell’s first glimpse of the apartment complex at which he worked more than 20 years ago came from the back seat of an unmarked police car Thursday night atop a freeway that was a pipe dream back then. But urban growth is not the only gain Northern Nevada has made in the past two decades. Advancements in science are what brought Mitchell, 61, back from the West Indies.
According to court records, DNA evidence found on victim Sheila Jo Harris’ clothing in 1982 was compared in 2000 to samples of hair and saliva taken from Mitchell in 1986 when he was arrested in the killing but released on lack of evidence. The testing came back a match.
“The DNA evidence developed in this case shows convincingly and conclusively that David Winfield Mitchell and no other suspect was the person who committed the (murder),” wrote Carson City District Attorney Noel Waters in court records. “He can claim no prejudice from the fact that he has avoided the consequences of this crime for so long; common law rightly recognizes no statute of limitations for murder.”
Mitchell left Trinidad under U.S. Marshal escort Thursday morning. He was met in Las Vegas by Carson City Sheriff’s Lt. Bob White and Detective Dave Legros on Thursday afternoon about 4:30 p.m. The three caught a flight to Reno, then drove to the Carson City Jail where Mitchell is being held without bail.
He is expected to be arraigned this morning for the murder of Harris, 18.
Her body was found Jan. 6, 1982, in her Lompa Lane apartment by her mother and the complex manager. An autopsy revealed the teen had been beaten, sexually assaulted and strangled.
In interviews Mitchell, who was the handyman at her apartment complex, gave to authorities then, he denied ever speaking with Harris except to ask if she wanted her name on her doorbell. He claimed the only time he’d been in her apartment was to clean it prior to her moving in.
According to the complex’s manager, Mitchell had keys to all the apartments. Investigators found no signs of forced entry into Harris’ home.
Mitchell has been previously convicted on rape and burglary charges out of California and New York for which he served time in prison. He was deported back to Trinidad in the late 1980s where he’s lived peacefully, recently retiring as a nightwatchman for the Ministry of Works.
“I don’t know what I’m feeling today,” Harris’ mother Linda Bratton said Thursday when she learned Mitchell was heading back to the U.S. “At least now he’s off the street and he’s not hurting other people. I don’t care what they do with him as long as he’s off the street so he can’t hurt any other families.”
• Contact reporter F.T. Norton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1213.