AURORA | More than 23 years after Tangie Sims’ body was found assaulted and stabbed to death in a north Aurora alley, Aurora detectives say they have identified her suspected murderer.
Police announced Tuesday afternoon that investigators have accused Wesley Backman, a truck driver who formerly lived in Aurora, of killing 25-year-old Sims along the 1200 block of Iola Street in late October 1996.
Backman died himself in 2008, police said. He was 41 at the time of Sims’ killing.
Aurora homicide detectives Steve Conner and Michael Prince tabbed Backman as the likely suspect by testing blood found at the crime scene for DNA. Police believe Backman cut himself at some point during the stabbing and left drops of his own blood, which were later recovered as evidence, at the scene.
The Aurora detectives teamed with a genealogist and United Data Connect, a Denver-based DNA research firm, to trace the blood found at the crime scene to a relative of Backman’s. Conner and Prince later obtained blood from an immediate family member of Backman’s, solidifying the trucker as the likely suspect.
“The family member was cooperative and provided a DNA sample to the detectives,” police wrote on the department blog.
The investigation involved travel to Idaho and North Dakota, police said.
For more than two decades, police only knew that Sims was last seen near the intersection of East Colfax Avenue and Joliet Street walking toward a freight truck with a sleeper cab, according to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. She was found dead shortly after 8 a.m. on Oct. 24, 1996.
“The excellent work done by the original investigators, the incredible determination of Detectives Conner and Prince, as well as the amazing work done by United Data Connect Inc., allowed the family of Sims to finally obtain some solace and closure,” police wrote of the lengthy investigation, which was largely paid for by various branches of Crime Stoppers U.S.A.
Prince and Conner continue to investigate whether Backman may have killed others before his death 12 years ago.
Aurora police maintain 120 unsolved homicides, according to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.