Nearly 30 years after a Florida woman was found strangled to death on the side of the road, her cold case murder has finally been solved.
Roslin Kruse, 23, was last seen alive in Tampa on 1 November 1993. Her slain body was found later that same day, but her brutal murder has remained a mystery until now.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office announced the “significant breakthrough” on Friday, and said they are “confident” that Michael Rizzo was responsible for Kruse’s death.
At the time, Rizzo was questioned and even underwent a polygraph test, which “indicated deception in his responses,” but “conflicting accounts from his wife and girlfriend at the time further complicated the investigation,” the sheriff’s office said.
In their initial investigation, detectives believed Kruse had gotten into a car with an unknown person and that the car was traced back to a home on Mike Drive where Kruse and this person had gone inside.
While “this observation raised suspicions,” the sheriff’s office said "no immediate proof of a crime was found.”
As their investigation continued, it was believed that Rizzo, who lived less than half a mile from where Kruse’s body was found, had picked her up on the day of her murder. But he reportedly claimed to have dropped her off alive and denied any involvement in her death.
Kruse’s body was found on the east shoulder of East Bay Road in Gibsonton, Florida, south of Symmes Road. An autopsy revealed that her cause of death was strangulation.
Forensic evidence, including an unknown DNA sample on Kruse’s body, was collected and stored in a database. But despite exhaustive searches, no matches were found until November 2021.
Detectives approached Rizzo’s biological daughter for a DNA swab, which ultimately matched a DNA profile recovered from Kruse’s body, in what the sheriff’s office said “provided a pivotal lead in the case”.
“In the realm of law enforcement, there are few challenges as daunting as solving a cold case that has lingered for nearly three decades,” Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said after his team solved the mystery.
Rizzo died on 1 March 2011, in Orange County, Florida. The sheriff’s office officially closed Kruse’s case.
“This investigation demonstrates the commitment of our cold case investigators to bring justice to victims and their families, no matter how much time has passed,” Sheriff Chronister said.
“We extend our deepest condolences to Ms. Kruse’s family, and we hope the resolution of this case can provide them with some closure.”