Diane Caldwell killing: Kevin LeWayne McKinney charged with woman's 1998 murder thanks to DNA evidence

While the Aurora Police Department still has plenty of work to do regarding a double shooting yesterday at the Sommerset Gardens Apartments, the APD appears to have finally cleared a previously unsolved crime from its books.

Diane Caldwell, 47, was found murdered in a field in November 1998 -- but only this week are we learning that an arrest warrant has been issued for Kevin LeWayne McKinney, 39, in relation to the slaying. The key: DNA evidence collected at the scene more than eleven years ago scored a belated hit.

Such DNA freed wrongfully convicted murderer Tim Masters (read more about that here) -- but for McKinney, it appears to have resulted to the opposite conclusion.

See a photo of Caldwell and get more details from the APD below:

Cold Case Homicide Solved

The Aurora Police Department Cold Case Unit has filed its first DNA- based cold homicide case.

Diane Juanita Caldwell was found deceased in a field near South Buckley Road and East Ohio Avenue on November 23, 1998. Investigators were able to recover what they believed to be the suspect's DNA. That DNA sample was entered into the Colorado DNA Index System (CODIS).

In 2003 the Colorado Bureau of Investigations re-examined the DNA evidence submitted in this case, and a match was found in CODIS, creating an investigative lead. Follow-up investigation did not lead to a case filing.

In July of 2008, a new Cold Case Unit was established. Det. Steve Conner was assigned the Caldwell case. His pursuit of the investigation over the next 21 months led to the accumulation of enough fresh evidence that the Arapahoe County District Attorney's Office accepted charges in the case.

An arrest warrant for 39-year-old Kevin Lewayne McKinney has been issued for Murder in the First Degree for the death of Diane Caldwell. Mr. McKinney is currently being held in the Colorado Department of Corrections on charges unrelated to the Caldwell homicide.

Background Information:

The Aurora Police Department formed its first Cold Case Unit in 1996. It was staffed by two experience homicide investigators. Between 1996 and 2002, the Cold Case Unit cleared 13 cases and obtained 5 homicide convictions on cold cases.

In 2002 the Cold Case Unit was disbanded due to a lack of staffing.

Chief Daniel Oates created the new Cold Case Unit in July of 2009. The Cold Case Unit is currently staffed by two senior homicide investigators. The Caldwell case is the first case this unit has filed.

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