Investigators in Austin, Texas, have solved a nearly 30-year-old cold case murder thanks to advancements in DNA forensics, which helped match evidence left at the scene to the suspect.
On May 12, 1994, Bert Allen Mann was found fatally stabbed in the kitchen of his home on the 2500 block of Star Grass Circle.
The Austin Police Department said evidence retrieved from the scene suggested Mann returned home from work when he discovered a burglar had broken into the residence through a rear sliding glass door.
The two men got into a fight near the front door of the home until Mann was ultimately stabbed and died.
The suspect was also injured during the scuffle and left blood inside the home.
Over the next several years, detectives conducted an exhaustive investigation, which produced over 40 people of interest.
A blood stain sample taken from the scene was tested for DNA in 2005, and the result was a profile determined to be from an unidentified man.
When the DNA profile was entered into the Combined DNA Index System, or CODIS, no match was found.
Almost 20 years later, in March 2023, the profile of the unidentified man was sent to Bode Technology for forensic genetic genealogy, which identified a potential suspect who was not known to the investigation.
Detectives executed a DNA search warrant for the suspect’s DNA on Sept. 8, 2023, to compare his DNA with DNA found inside Mann’s home in 1994.
The suspect, who has been identified as Kenneth Robbins, was found dead in his work truck five days later in Weatherford, Texas.
Police said the DNA from Robbins matched, confirming he was the person whose blood was found inside Mann’s home.
FOX 7 reported that police said Robbins lived in Austin at the time of the murder.
An autopsy conducted on Robbins determined he took his own life, according to police.
“Mr. Mann is survived by his wife and his sister, and they are happy enough to have an answer as to the who,” Sergeant Melanie Rodriguez with the APD Cold Case Unit told the station. “I don’t know that they will ever have an answer as to the why. And I don’t know, quite honestly, if any of those answers would ever be sufficient for their grief.”
Over the last 29 years, more than 20 detectives contributed to the investigation of the case, along with several non-sworn employees.