Colorado Springs police arrest suspect in 30-year-old cold case homicide

Crime

A man has been arrested in connection with the 1988 killing of Mary Lynn Vialpando, Colorado Springs police announced Thursday. 

James Papol, 46, was arrested in Pueblo and is charged with first-degree murder.

He was 15 years old at the time of the murder.

“I was shocked that somebody that young could, number one, commit such violent crime, and I was shocked because my sister was a strong healthy woman,” Vialpando’s sister, Cynthia Renkel, said.

Vialpando was found dead in an alley off Colorado Avenue near 26th Street on June 5, 1988. She had been raped, stabbed, and beaten to death, according to police. She was married and had a 4-year-old child at the time. 

DNA evidence was collected at the scene for later testing, a first in state history. In November, police released a DNA composite photo of the then-unknown suspect.

“There’s never closure, and I certainly don’t feel like anything is resolved yet,” Renkel said. “We will have to see what the justice system does with this person.”

Renkel believes Vialpando and Papol did not know each other at the time.

“I think the case may be complicated due to his age at the time and other things, but hopefully it will work out at the end,” Renkel said.

Papol is being held without bond. His family declined to comment for this story.

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