In Florida, a homicide case that is nearly four decades old was finally solved in early October. In Polk County, the sheriff’s office announced in a statement that the 37-year old murder case in the sunshine state was determined to be perpetrated by a neighbor of a victim who is now also deceased. On October 27th, 1986, Teresa Scalf was murdered at her home in Lakeland, Florida after having her throat slit. At the time of the occurrence, detectives thought that the attack may have been motivated by lust or desire. Scalf had also displayed wounds to her hands which may have been received in self-defense.
On October 17th, the Washington Times reported that the case had been solved. Immediately after the crime had been discovered, blood that was not belonging to the victim (Scalf) was also identified on the scene, but after analysis no affirmative match was made and no individual was linked to the blood. Over thirty years later, in 2022, investigators sent the nearly 36 year old blood samples to a private lab named Othram for a renewed analysis. In this new search, a match was made with DNA documented in the year 1949. This DNA was that of a third cousin to the neighbor of Scalf at the time of the attack. This neighbor was named Donald Douglas.
Scalf was a nurse, and a mother of an eight year old child at the time she was killed. Douglas had lived directly behind Scalf in the period directly leading up to the attack. Detectives had interviewed him in 1986 in a routine canvass of the neighborhood following the crime, but these detectives had no reason to suspect him of being the perpetrator and thought nothing of their interaction with him. Douglas also had no prior criminal history. After obtaining a DNA sample from his son, police affirmatively confirmed the blood was Douglas’s. Douglas had died in 2008.