Man arrested in Mesa cold cases that happened 30+ years ago
MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - Thanks to DNA and fingerprints, there’s a break in two cold cases that are more than 30 years old in Mesa. Police took 58-year-old Thomas Davis Cox from Colorado into custody on Saturday at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. Police say he is responsible for sexually assaulting and murdering 22-year-old Susan Morse at her Mesa apartment on Oct. 16, 1989. Investigators also said he sexually assaulted a 23-year-old woman a year later in the same apartment complex.
Investigators say they used DNA and fingerprint analysis at each crime scene but for years, no suspect was identified. But recently, police say a follow-up investigation was started, and a family line was developed using advanced DNA technology. Using that, Cox was identified, police said. Detectives then compared fingerprints from a misdemeanor arrest of Cox to the prints at the scenes. Police said they matched. Cox was then extradited from Colorado to Phoenix.
Roland Brown heads up the Mesa Police Department’s cold case unit. He said advances in DNA technology have had a significant impact on how they investigate crimes.
“20 years ago when DNA 1st came out, we were pretty limited to what we could use it for, and what was available,” said Brown. “But now, since advancement of DNA technology and creation of DNA database, it now allows us to solve these cases.”
Brown said there is nothing more rewarding than telling a victim’s family that you’ve made an arrest.
“When you go to a family and tell the family we made an arrest and we’re pretty confident the person arrested is responsible for your loved one’s death, it’s the greatest feeling,’ said Brown. “When you get that hug or handshake, you’re standing there and see tears of joy on a family member.”
Cox is being held on a $1 million bond after being indicted on 16 counts in the cases including suspicion of first-degree murder, sexual assault, burglary, and kidnapping.
Copyright 2022 KTVK/KPHO. All rights reserved.