(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.)— An arrest in a five-year-old murder case in Nebraska has stirred up a mix of emotions for one St. Joseph family.
Two men broke into 42-year-old Amiee Kearns apartment in an Omaha suburb in Oct. 28, 2013, according to the Ralston Police Department. Authorities said the suspects demanded money before shooting and killing Kearns.
Crime scene investigators combed the crime scene and collected evidence from every inch of Kearns home including blood from a broken window.
In a press conference Monday, Police Chief Marc Leonardo said the Ralston Police Department worked tirelessly on this case but the trail went cold.
Kearns had three sons, Dustin, Patrick, and Mark Hardin. The Hardin brothers said after five years, they almost gave up hope of finding their mother’s murderer.
“We thought it was a dead-end,” Patrick Hardin said. “We hadn’t heard anything in years.”
The blood found at the scene of their mom’s murder was put into a national DNA database run by the FBI. Nearly five years to the day after Kearns death, Nebraska State Patrol’s crime lab called Ralston police with a DNA match.
Ricardo Raul Escobedo Jr. was convicted of a drug-related crime in Iowa and was serving time in state prison. But the law also required Escobedo to submit a DNA sample and it matched the blood found at Kearns’ apartment the night of her death.
Police issued a search warrant for Escobedo in connection to the 2013 shooting of Kearns.
“Our investigators were able to serve a search warrant on the suspect and obtain two buccal swabs of his DNA to be compared with the results from the Nebraska State Patrol Lab,” Leonardo said.
Ralston police then questioned Escobedo and he admitted his role in Kearns death, Leonard said.
The case was touted by local officials as an example of hard work and perseverance.
“That’s the power of DNA evidence,” Douglas County Attorney Don Klein said. “That’s the power of sticking with a case, of preserving the evidence, of never letting up and never giving up on a case.”
She was a grandmother and had more grandchildren on the way. She had moved from St. Joseph, Missouri to the Omaha-area a year before her death.
Her sons stayed in St. Joseph to raise their families but she kept in constant contact with them until her death.
Authorities said the investigation is still ongoing as they search for others that may have participated in Kearns’ murder.