- Associated Press - Thursday, February 6, 2014

Salt Lake City police have closed a 37-year-old cold case after learning that the man likely responsible for the killing has died.

The department announced Thursday that it has wrapped up the investigation into the death of Charles R. Collings, 50, whose body was found in a Salt Lake City field on Aug. 23, 1976. Collings had been drinking with two other men when a fight over liquor broke out and he was strangled, police said.

A detective recently had been reviewing the case for evidence that might be processed using modern DNA techniques, officials said. During the review, the detective found enough probable cause to link Steven Coombs to Collings‘ death, including statements made by witness Wilford Murphy in the months after Collings‘ body was found.

Murphy died in 1992, but a board of detectives agreed that his statements were truthful and consistent with evidence before ruling unanimously that they should close the case.

It wasn’t clear why police hadn’t arrested or charged Coombs previously, according to Salt Lake City police Detective Cody Lougy.

Coombs, who was homeless, was in his mid-60s when he died in 2012, Lougy said.

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