Hamburg, PA

34-Year-Old Cold Case Murder Solved by DNA on Letter from Killer

A.W. Naves
Anna Kane(Photo: PA State Police)

In 1990, the Reading Eagle in Pennsylvania carried a front-page story about the unsolved murder of 26-year-old Anna Kane, who had been murdered in Hamburg, Pennsylvania in October 1988. The story spoke of the frustrations police were having trying to find the killer of the beautiful young mother of three, despite having recovered DNA evidence from Kane’s body and clothing.

The newspaper received many letters in response to the article, but one was of particular interest. A letter from a person who called themselves a “concerned citizen” contained details of the murder that weren’t publicly known. The newspaper turned the letter over to the police who determined that only the killer could have known the facts it contained.

A DNA test of the envelope confirmed that the DNA on the envelope matched the DNA found on Kane’s body. The only problem is that detectives had no way of knowing who the recovered DNA belonged to and no leads on where to start looking.

This week, that changed.

After more than 34 years, DNA evidence has allowed cold case detectives to take the DNA recovered from the envelope and reprocess it. They have now identified the person it belongs to as Scott Grim, according to a press conference held by Pennsylvania State Police and Berks County District Attorney John Adams on August 18.
Scott Grim(Photo: PA State Police)

Grim had a previous 2002 arrest for harassment due to an incident with a former business partner. However, there was no DNA on file for him in the police database. It is unknown how a sample of his DNA was obtained to resolve this cold case, but police have said it was a direct sample.

The U.S. Department of Justice provided part of the funding for testing through grants given to Parabon NanoLabs in Virginia. The district attorney’s office contributed additional funds to cover the costs. After a genetic match came back showing Grim as a possible suspect, police obtained a direct sample from him and the lab confirmed he was the killer.

Investigators in the case say that the number of murders that can be solved using DNA is limited to those in which there is enough source material available for testing. It was only because the envelope had been sealed up that the DNA had been preserved enough to recover enough sample material for testing from it. If Grim had not written the letter, police may not have been able to confirm he was the man who had murdered Anna Kane.

Unfortunately, Grim will never pay the price for his crime, as he died of natural causes in 2018. He was 58 years old.

Tamika Reyes, Kane’s daughter, was only 9 years old when her mother was murdered. She expressed mixed emotions at the revelation. There is relief in finally knowing who her mother’s killer was, but also disappointment that he escaped justice for his crime. Kane’s two sons were too young to remember their mother when the murder occurred but can also find comfort in knowing the case is resolved.

According to news reports from 1988, Anna Kane was a prostitute who was likely working in the area where she disappeared in the early morning hours of October 23, 1988. She was later found dead in the woods surrounding the Ontelaunee Trail. Kane had been beaten and strangled to death with baling twine. There was no evidence that Kane had been sexually assaulted but she had put up a fight, as demonstrated by the severe bruising on her face, according to police statements given to The Morning Call.
The wooded location where the body of Anna Kane was found(Photo: PA State Police)

There was no known association between Grim and Kane other than they were both residents of the same area. He may have been a client, but police have not been able to confirm that through any of the witnesses they’ve interviewed. The reason behind the murder may never be known, but the name of the killer is finally a matter of record.

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Freelance Writer. Author. Alabamian. I write about true crimes, unsolved cases, and macabre mysteries.

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