Private Investigator Questions 33-Year-Old Murder Conviction

A St. Louis private investigator is trying to reopen a 33-year-old murder case in hopes of proving that the murder was committed by a serial killer that had been in the area during 1982.

JoAnn Tate was viciously murdered in front of her two young children, aged four and seven. Melissa Davis was the seven year old who survived to testify against the man she believed murdered her father. Davis pointed Rodney Lincoln out in a photo lineup shortly after the murder occurred and helped seal his fate to serve consecutive life in prison sentences.

Now Bill Cutter, a private investigator is trying to get the case reopened. Cutter believes that Lincoln was wrongly convicted. He also believes he knows who actually committed the murder. Tommy Lynn Sells was a serial killer who was executed in 2014. Sells was convicted of killing a 13-year-old girl in her sleep but had also claimed responsibility for dozens of other murders across the United States.

Cutter believes that a partial bloody fingerprint on the murder weapon will match up with Sells’ fingerprint. He also says that Sells can be placed in the area when the murder occurred. “We identified over a dozen cases where the m.o. is identical to this case where Rodney Lincoln was convicted,” he said.

Cutter pointed out that despite the DNA all over the crime scene, nothing at the scene pointed to Lincoln’s guilt. The only evidence against Lincoln was the testimony of a seven-year-old girl. Melissa Davis stands by her testimony more than three decades later saying that she has no doubt at all that Lincoln was the man who killed her mother.

The case was reviewed by the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s office who said that the partial fingerprint is not large enough for any comparison.

Cutter refutes the decision, stating that he has an expert who can verify the fingerprint but needs a court order to retrieve the fingerprint for comparison.