Cold Case Arrest Made In Florida, Trucker Involved

A murder case that happened almost 40 years ago may have been solved thanks to excellent police work and DNA evidence.

CBS Local in Miami reports that truck driver James Curtis Clanton of Lake Butler has been arrested in connection to the 1980 sexual assault and murder of 21-year-old Helene Pruszynski in the state of Colorado.

Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock told reporters that deputies had Clanton under surveillance for a week before his arrest last weekend. He is currently being held in the Douglas County Jail and is expected to be extradited to Colorado soon.

Pruszynski was living with her aunt in Englewood, Colorado, and had recently gotten a job as an intern and production assistant at local radio station KHOW-AM.  She was found stabbed to death in a field on January 16, 1980, in what is now known as the community of Highlands Ranch.

Investigators at the time believe that Pruszynski had been abducted from a bus stop after leaving work to go to her aunt’s home where she and a friend were living at the time.

Court documents indicate that at that time, Clanton was out on parole after a four-year term in prison for rape in the state of Arkansas. At the time, Clanton was living in Denver at the home of a counselor who had opened his home to him.

At the time of Pruszynski’s murder, male DNA was recovered from the scene, but no analysis was performed until 1998. The uploaded evidence did not provide any potential suspects.

It wasn’t until 2017 when investigators revisited their efforts to solve the case and made use of DNA genealogy technologies that have been provided by services such as and Investigators were able to locate distant relatives who released their family trees to them to find Clanton.

DNA retrieved from a beer mug he used at a bar matched that of the DNA evidence left at the scene of Pruszynski’s murder.    The solving of the case has taken so long that the only person who is still alive in Prusynski’s family who can appreciate the case being solved at last is her sister.

While Clanton is being charged with Pruszynski’s murder, the statute of limitations for sexual assault ran out in the case. Clanton, may, however, also be connected to other rapes that happened in the Englewood area.