Investigators hope new billboards will provide tips in the Stearns County’s cold case

According to the sheriff, Fairhaven had a population of 100 in 1981, a small tavern, a grocery store, a church and a town hall.

Forty years later, few people still live near the crime scene.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS was able to reach out to a woman who was living in the area at the time of the fatal knife wounds and said the community lived in “total fear” in the weeks after Cole was found.

There are nearly a dozen boxes of evidence from Cole’s house, held deep in a locker at the Stearns County Sheriffs Department Headquarters.

Lt. Vic Weiss of the Stearns County Sheriff’s Department. | KSTP-TV

“Only a modest life, a modest house, had a family nearby, friends in the church, she was brutally murdered overnight,” said Weiss.

A bloody handprint of the murderer was left at the scene, but the largest piece of evidence that the investigators have on file, it has not yet been able to connect it to a murderer.

“We couldn’t really find out a motivation, there wasn’t any significant wealth anyone would look for or anything like that,” said Weiss. “We think the motive is most likely just a young man with mental illness involving sexual anger or violence.”

For the past four decades, tips have come and gone, including search warrants issued in real estate, and suspects interviewed investigators said.

Evidence evidence in the Stearns County Sheriff's Department.  |  KSTP-TV
Evidence evidence in the Stearns County Sheriff’s Department. | KSTP-TV

Evidence from the scene is tested using the latest DNA technology.

“I think there is a good chance that something that is being tested or is being tested shows this. I am also confident that we have made progress in talking to different people and new interviews and new tips.” Weiss said.

For information on the Cole case, you can contact the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office at 320-259-3700 or send a tip directly to Tri-County Crime Stoppers of Minnesota.

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