COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — A murder investigation that has been quiet for more than 30 years is suddenly cracked wide open.
Darlene Krashoc was just a few months shy of her 21st birthday when she was brutally murdered in Colorado Springs.
After years of no new news, police suddenly made an arrest.
“Darlene Krashoc was found March 17, 1987,” said James Isham, cold case detective for the Colorado Springs Police Department.
Isham said she was found behind the Korean Club restaurant on South Academy Boulevard by CSPD officers doing business checks early that morning.
“It was apparent to those first responding officers that this person had sustained some pretty traumatic injuries,” said Isham.
Darlene had been sexually assaulted, strangled to death, and her mutilated body dumped like a piece of garbage.
She was anything but trash. She was a daughter, a sister, a friend and an active duty soldier stationed at Fort Carson.
Darlene followed in her father’s footsteps. He served in the Army for eight years from 1966 to 1974 during the Vietnam War.
“When she talked to me about it, I tried to discourage her. I really did,” said Paul Krashoc, her father.
Her mother also begged her not to join.
“She was pretty headstrong, she was determined. Well, she was real headstrong,” said Betty Lou Krashoc, her mother. “She was determined and she was going to do what she wanted to do and she did. And my worst fear came true.”
Betty Lou said she found out the news when she got a knock on the door.
“They said it was a homicide, so I called Paul right away and told him to come home,” she said.
Paul and Betty Lou said Darlene had a heart of gold and couldn’t imagine someone having it out for her, so police and agents from the Army Criminal Investigation started retracing her steps.
“Initially they interviewed a lot of people regarding Darlene, coworkers, family, friends, which is normal in any homicide investigation,” said Isham.
They discovered that the night before her murder, Darlene was out at a local club called Shuffles with members of her unit, where she spent the night drinking and dancing.
“It was a normal evening for her when she would go out and spend time with her friends,” said Isham.
She was last seen alive leaving the club between midnight and 1 a.m.
“The initial reports that those investigators completed, there was nothing in there that indicated that Darlene had been involved in an altercation, or had made someone mad, kind of giving motive if you will. It just wasn’t there,” said Isham. “She was well-liked in the community, her coworkers liked her, there was kind of a core group of people that she hung out with or ran with, and they indicated they didn’t know why anyone would have a problem with Darlene.”
Investigators talked to hundreds of people and looked into numerous suspects.
“At some point the case went cold based on just the lack of probable cause,” said Isham.
But as the case got colder, technology was heating up, with huge developments in DNA and genetic genealogy.
“The evidence never went away,” said Isham.
A big break in the case wouldn’t come for 32 years, but when it came, lives were changed in an instant.
“A person by the name of Michael Whyte was identified in this case through the DNA,” said Isham.
Parabon Nanolabs, a DNA technology company in Virginia, used DNA from the crime scene to develop a suspect profile, which matched Whyte’s description.
They also traced that DNA to multiple long-distance family members of Whyte, using genetic genealogy, or family trees.
“So in cases like this where you have an unknown sample, what those companies do is take that unknown sample and match it with similar traits or samples of your known sample and then you have to work backwards,” said Isham.
According to the arrest affidavit, Whyte now lives in Thornton and works in Denver. But back in 1987, he was a signal operations manager in the U.S. Army and was stationed at Fort Carson.
“The victim was active duty, so that theory had always been out there that maybe the suspect was,” said Isham.
Police believed Whyte was the man they had been looking for all these years. However, they needed to match his DNA to the DNA found at the crime scene to be sure.
Investigators followed Whyte, waiting for the right opportunity, and gathered a sample from a cup he threw away at a restaurant.
The DNA was a match.
“For a homicide detective, and speaking for myself, I don’t think it gets any better than that,” said Isham.
On June 13, 2019, Michael Whyte was arrested at his home without incident.
One of the first calls officers made afterward was to Paul and Betty Lou.
“We kind of looked at each other, started crying, and really couldn’t say much of anything for a few seconds,” said Paul. “Time just kind of stood still.”
The two said they had never heard Whyte’s name before and have no idea why he would have wanted to hurt their daughter, but they plan to ask him.
“I would just tell him that I feel sorry for his mother,” said Betty Lou. “He took my life away from me when he took Darlene, so I can only imagine what his mother feels, knowing what he did.”
The Krashocs want Whyte to spend the next 32 years behind bars.
“He had his probation, now it’s time to do his time,” said Paul.
“I don’t want him to die. I want him to live,” said Betty Lou. “I want him to stay incarcerated for 32 years. After that I don’t care what they do with him.”
Whyte is now 58 years old. At the time of Darlene’s death, he was 26 years old.
FOX21 News pulled his criminal record and it was clean.
He now faces charges of first-degree murder. A preliminary hearing is set for October 25.