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TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - A family finally has answers after the Terre Haute Police Department say they've solved a cold case going back more than 46 years.
Pam Milam was found murdered on the campus of Indiana State University back in 1972.
Statement from Sigma Kappa
Sigma Kappa Sorority and our Gamma Gamma Chapter at Indiana State
University have long mourned the violent death of our member Pamela Milam, a 1972
initiate of the Gamma Gamma Chapter, in September 1972. Today we are thankful for
the renewed efforts of the Terre Haute Police Department in solving her murder. Our
thoughts are with Pam’s family as this dark chapter is finally concluded. We ask that the
media and others respect the family’s and chapter’s privacy at this time.
The trail to find her killer went cold years ago, but thanks to new technology...police have answers.
Milam was found dead in the trunk of her car where some tennis courts now sit on campus, but when Milam was killed, the area was a parking lot.
During Monday's press conference, Terre Haute Police Chief Shawn Keen said the case started at a sorority party.
Milam was last seen going to her car, but when she never met her friends that night, they started to worry.
About a day later Milam's father and sister found her body in the trunk of her car.
She was bound and gagged, and there was a stain on her shirt containing someone else's DNA.
That kicked off an investigation that would last almost 50 years.
During that time, police arrested Robert Austin.
He confessed to abducting girls on campus, but not killing Milam.
Keen revisited the case in 2001.
With better technology, he found the DNA on the shirt did not match Austin's, so the case was reopened.
In 2017, technology improved again.
Genetic investigators were able to use that same DNA to give them a crude profile of the killer.
Remarkably, they were able to match that suspect's profile with a family in Washington, Indiana.
From there, they were able to do a reverse paternity test of sorts, to link Jeffrey Lynn Hand's DNA to Milam's shirt.
Hand was killed in a police shootout in Kokomo a few years after Milam's death.
It's a process that took decades, but Chief Keen and Milam's family say they're overwhelmed they have a resolution.
"It was so good, I can't describe the feeling when I was actually able to notify her to say 'hey, we have the person responsible," Keen said.
"Maybe I would have liked to face him and said how dare you could have done this, but also, but on the other hand, I'm glad he hasn't been living a wonderful life someplace," Milam's sister, Charlene Sanford said.