According to Florida deputies, the man accused of killing someone in 1987 has been identified. On Wednesday evening, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office reported that officers had detained Michael Lapniewski, Jr., 55, for the alleged murder of Opal Weil, who was 82 years old.
According to officials, Weil had “clear and apparent indications of trauma” and was discovered dead on February 9, 1987, when her sister-in-law went to check on her after she didn’t answer the phone. Before deputies arrived at the St. Petersburg, Florida, residence, the suspect ran away, according to authorities.
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Lapniewski is accused of breaking into the house by removing a “single windowpane,” entering one of the rooms, and cutting the phone line. In the evidence gathered at the scene, investigators discovered many hairs. They could create a partial DNA profile but could not arrest at the time.
When the sheriff’s office’s cold case detectives were given the file in December 2020, they requested that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement perform more testing on the hairs found there and hired Parabon Nanolabs to “conduct further genealogy research.” Lapniewski, who authorities said resided a half-mile away from Weil at the time of the murder, was left as the suspect when detectives were able to reduce the list of potential candidates further.
Lapniewski’s DNA was collected by Pinellas County investigators who went to his home after learning that the suspect lived in Waveland, Mississippi, according to the sheriff’s office. When the DNA was tested, the results matched the DNA profile created at the scene, according to the detectives. After being detained by Mississippi officials on January 26, Lapniewski was extradited to Florida, where he is accused of first-degree murder.
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