Council Bluffs Police Clear 40 Year Old "Cold Case" Murder

Council Bluffs Police detectives say they have cleared the cold case homicide of Lee Rotatori, who was murdered in June 1982.

Homicide detectives say the 32-year old woman was a Michigan native, who had just started a job in the Bluffs at Jennie Edmundson Hospital and was staying in a hotel.

When she did not show up for work on the morning of June 25th, 1982, her body was discovered inside her rented room.

Police say Ms. Rotatori died from a single stab wound and there was evidence of a sexual assault.

In 2001, the evidence collected in 1982 was resubmitted to the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation Lab for examination.

Advances in forensic technology revealed the presence of a male DNA profile.

When entered into State and Federal DNA databases, there was not a match.

However, the DCI Lab would periodically check this unknown DNA over the years.

In April 2019, Council Bluffs investigators submitted the unknown male DNA profile to "Parabon Nanolabs" to begin a genetic genealogy case.

Investigators say in February of last year, researchers from Parabon and "ES Genealogy," who examined familial relationships, concluded that a Thomas O. Freeman, of West Frankfort, Illinois, was the source of the suspect DNA.

A sample of Freeman’s daughter’s DNA was then analyzed by the Iowa DCI Lab, which confirmed there was a parent/child relationship between the DNA found at the scene of the Council Bluffs murder and Freeman’s daughter.

Further investigation revealed that Thomas Freeman was also the victim of a murder.

On October 30, 1982, Freeman’s decomposed body was found buried in a shallow grave near Cobden, Illinois.

Freeman had been shot numerous times; he was 35 years old at the time of his death.

It was reported that he had been dead for about three months before his body was discovered.

Council Bluffs Police say Freeman’s killer was never identified.

CBPD investigators are currently working with the Illinois State Police to determine if Freeman’s murder was somehow linked to his involvement in Lee Rotatori’s death.

(Pictures from Getty Images and Council Bluffs Police)

Lee Rotatori

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