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DNA Evidence Links Small PA City Councilman With 1979 Homicide

You may have issues with the current politicians in Washington, but at least, to our knowledge, none of them have ever been charged with murdering a lover 33 years ago.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that Bridgewater Councilman Gregory Scott Hopkins, a 65-year-old building contractor, has been charged with homicide of a young woman in 1979, thanks to a break-through in DNA evidence linking the legislator to the murder.

"Councilman Gregory Scott Hopkins, 65, a building contractor, was charged with homicide because DNA evidence linked him to the slaying of Catherine Janet Walsh, 23, of Monaca, District Attorney Anthony J. Berosh said.

Her father found her in her bed, bound and strangled with a bandana, on Sept. 1, 1979.

Defense attorney James Ross said Hopkins is innocent, adding: 'We intend to fight (these charges) vigorously.'

Police found DNA evidence on Walsh's nightgown, the white rope that bound her hands behind her back and the bedsheet that covered her body, according to the criminal complaint. New tests of the evidence established a link to Hopkins, prosecutors said.

The complaint indicates that when police interviewed Hopkins seven hours after Walsh was found, he acknowledged that he and Walsh had been lovers but said that it had been a month since they had been intimate in her home."

Residents of the small community of about 850 were reportedly shocked to hear the charges.

"When I heard (about the arrest) on the news, it shocked me. I couldn't believe it," said one of Hopkins' neighbors, Tim Phillippi to the Tribune. "I always thought he was a real nice guy. I never in a million years would have thought this."

Rod Weaver, who lives next door to Hopkins, said the councilman "was always very friendly to me. I would see him in the backyard and he would say, 'Hi! How are you doing?' We never had any problems."

Hopkins is a Republican and was appointed to the borough council in 2010.

A federal grant in 2010 gave troopers the money to resubmit evidence from this and other cases for DNA analysis, which wasn't available in 1979. The Tribune reports that Andrew J. Gall Jr., who was the first Monaca police officer to respond to Caltury's initial call and is now a county detective, spent hours tracking similar, unsolved murders around the country.

Before the crime lab analysis was finished last week and warrant for Hopkins obtained Sunday, DNA samples were obtained for Hopkins and others -- some now living in Massachusetts, California and elsewhere -- who police interviewed initially about Walsh's murder.

"Because of your dedication, professionalism and your relentless pursuit of justice, today has brought a measure of comfort, relief and satisfaction to our family," ABC News reports Walsh's brother, Francesco Caltieri, 52, said at a news conference Monday.

Hopkins is being held in the Beaver County Jail without bond. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Monday.

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