The case was a classic whodunit: Lisa Barselou, a 26-year- old woman with no known enemies, was found strangled in her Bolton Hill house. The killer left her body, wearing only a pink T-shirt, in a bathtub.
That was November 1989.
"We had an entire squad on it for a month. ... It was worked and worked," said Lt. Terrence P. McLarney, a homicide supervisor who was in charge of the detectives initially assigned to the case.
Barselou's hands were bound with strips of cloth torn from the shirt, according to a brief item published in The Sun. Her bedroom was in disarray and some of the clothes strewn did not belong to any of the occupants, The Evening Sun reported.
Police didn't make any arrests. One of the two primary investigators, Donald Waltemeyer, died. The other now works for the National Security Agency.
Then, three years ago, McLarney asked homicide's cold case squad to re-examine the killing.
"It was just a case that sort of sticks in your craw," McLarney said. "You have a young female who's not involved in any criminal activity raped and murdered."
The old case file included well-preserved DNA samples found at the crime scene. Detective Homer M. Pennington Jr., a veteran investigator, got the case. He used the evidence to eliminate several suspects, then sent it to a national database for comparison.
On Tuesday, he got a match.
The suspect, Kevin Gerald Robinson, now 41, lived at 325 McMechen St., blocks away from Barselou, who lived at 1754 Park Ave. Robinson's name was not in the original case file and it does not appear that he was ever interviewed, Pennington said.
But the suspect did have a criminal record. Six years after the slaying, Robinson held four people hostage on the 12th floor of a downtown law office on Calvert Street. One of the hostages, a 27-year-old woman, managed to snatch his gun and shoot him four times and then call the police. Robinson was convicted of assault and kidnapping.
Yesterday, Pennington and McLarney drove to Hagerstown, where Robinson is serving a lengthy prison sentence, and brought him to the downtown police headquarters building for an interview.
"He was nonchalant, outwardly," McLarney said. The detectives would not discuss what Robinson said. Police charged Robinson with first-degree murder in Barselou's slaying.
Pennington contacted her relatives. "They were just happy," he said. The case is still being investigated. Pennington wants to know if and how Robinson knew the woman he's accused of killing.
It's the third cold case that Pennington has closed this year. He said his squad usually puts down 12 to 15 a year.