LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) – On Wednesday afternoon, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department held a media conference to announce that it identified the suspect in a 1991 murder investigation that crossed state lines.
Lt. Jason Johansson began by lauding the collaborative efforts between Las Vegas police and their counterparts in Westminster, Colorado. He added that the two departments also solved another case from 1975 in Colorado involving the same suspect, Thomas Martin Elliott.
He walked through a timeline of the investigation, beginning with the report of a suspicious death in an apartment on the 1000 block of W. Monroe Ave. in Las Vegas in May 1991. Police found Sherrie Bridgewater, 30, dead in the apartment, with her body positioned in a “suspicious nature.”
LVMPD homicide detectives responded and took over the investigation. An autopsy revealed that Bridgewater had been raped and murdered by strangulation.
Lt. Johansson explained that investigators worked the case “relentlessly,” but it remained unsolved for years. Advancements in technology brought new information to light in 2013.
Bridgewater’s sexual assault kit was submitted for DNA examination and police were able to develop a suspect profile of the person believed to have murdered her. However, they were not able to come up with that suspect’s identity.
Information submitted to a DNA database linked the case to a second unsolved murder in Colorado from December 1975. Lt. Johansson said that Las Vegas police collaborated with the Westminster PD immediately upon learning about another victim who was found sexually assaulted and stangled.
The lieutenant explained that both agencies had the same suspect profile, but technology was not yet advanced enough to identify that person. Both agencies submitted the case for forensic genealogy testing in 2018.
In 2022, Elliott was identified as the suspect. Police determined that he was in Colorado when the Westminster victim was murdered and was also in Las Vegas at the time of Bridgewater’s killing.
Investigator exhumed his remains in October 2023 and DNA samples confirmed a 100% match with Elliott in both murder cases. Police believe that he met the Las Vegas victim at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.
Bridgewater’s father was very interested in the case, but he and the victim’s mother both passed away before it was solved.
“Resolving of cold cases is very important to me,” Johansson stated. “Not only were we able to solve a cold case, we were able to provide two different families in this case closure.”
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