- Associated Press - Saturday, May 31, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - A man has pleaded guilty to a first-degree murder charge in the stabbing death of a 71-year-old woman in her South Salt Lake home 25 years ago.

Gary Hilfiker entered the plea in 3rd District Court on Friday, four weeks after he was charged with the 1989 murder of Flora Rundle.

The 56-year-old Hilfiker already is serving a life sentence at the Utah State Prison for the 1992 murder of his 38-year-old girlfriend, Marsha Haverty.

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Hilfiker, a cabdriver who had given rides to Rundle several times, was charged with breaking into her home, stabbing her and taking a couple hundred dollars from her purse.

Investigators ran DNA evidence preserved from Rundle’s death into a national database in January and came up with a match to Hilfiker.

The case was reopened last year with the help of a $300,000 federal grant to investigate cold cases that can be solved with new DNA technology. Among other advances, scientists can obtain DNA information from much smaller amounts of material than they could just a few years ago, police said.

Hilfiker faces up to life in prison when he’s sentenced next month, The Salt Lake Tribune reported (https://bit.ly/RQr0l6 ).

In exchange for his plea, prosecutors took the death penalty off the table and agreed to recommend that Hilfiker’s new life term run concurrently with the one he’s serving for the unrelated 1992 murder.

In that case, Hilfiker stabbed Haverty up to 10 times in her Salt Lake City home, then poured kerosene over her and set her ablaze.

Hilfiker has said he was despondent after a failed romance and killed Haverty in a drug-fueled state when she tried to talk him out of killing himself.

Hilfiker has said he became a born-again Christian in 2001.


Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, https://www.sltrib.com

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