CHEYENNE, Wyo. — A former police officer facing murder and arson charges in the 1985 slaying of a University of Wyoming student is the latest in a series of suspects investigators have focused on in their search to find the woman's killer.
Laramie police last week arrested Fredrick J. Lamb, 67, in connection with the death of Shelli R. Wiley. She was 22 at the time. Her body was found in her burning apartment. Authorities have said she had been stabbed and sexually assaulted.
Lamb's lawyer, Charles Pelkey of Laramie, declined comment Tuesday. Lamb faces a court hearing Thursday at which a judge will decide whether he should stand trial.
The potential break in the cold case comes more than 30 years after the killing and years since investigators appeared to have any other suspect. Authorities filed murder charges against a teenager shortly after Wiley's death but dropped them in 1991 after he recanted his confession. Investigators performed DNA tests on a convicted rapist in Utah in 1994, The Salt Lake Tribune reported at the time.
In 2000, according to media reports, investigators with the Laramie Police Department submitted DNA from Wiley's case and another unsolved homicide to a private testing firm in Maryland. An Albany County man was acquitted last year of charges of first-degree murder and rape in connection with the other case, dating from 1972.
It's unclear what led authorities to charge Lamb now.
Investigators note Lamb had stayed in a nearby apartment the night Wiley was killed, according to a sworn statement filed in court Friday from Laramie Police Detective Robert Terry. Investigators had found blood on the door of his apartment, and he told investigators he had cut himself. Investigators concluded a body had been dragged from his apartment to the apartment where Wiley was found dead.
Terry stated he interviewed Lamb and that Lamb "denies the allegations" and "consistently denied remembering the crime itself."
The narrative says Lamb may have contradicted himself. Attributed to Lamb are the statements, "bottom line is, I killed a girl," and "I'm probably in such deep denial I might not ever get out of it."
But the sworn statement doesn't include what questions Lamb was responding to or a give a full transcription of what he said.
Lamb had been employed at the sheriff's office from 1974 to 1985 and had previously worked as an officer at the Laramie Police Department. He returned to county employment in 2008 as a maintenance worker at the county detention center and continued there until he was arrested last Wednesday.
Albany County Attorney Peggy Trent, whose office is prosecuting Lamb, said Tuesday she could not release the entire transcript of Terry's interview with Lamb. Trent also said she couldn't comment on why it took investigators so long to bring charges because it would be prejudicial to Lamb to speak about the case.
AP News Researcher Jennifer Farrar contributed to this report.