By Associated Press - Monday, July 13, 2020

PRESCOTT, Ariz. (AP) - Authorities in Yavapai County say they have solved a 40-year-old homicide case.

Yavapai County Sheriff’s officials said Monday that DNA evidence is what ultimately led to them determining who shot and killed Michael E. Lee in 1980.

According to investigators, Lee was a 29-year-old iron worker from Indiana visiting Arizona. His body was found off a highway in an unincorporated area of Yavapai County on Oct. 21, 1980. He had several gunshot wounds to the head.

No suspects were ever identified.

In 2018, a volunteer with the sheriff’s cold case unit sent some cigarette butts from the scene to a lab for DNA testing. Results indicated the cigarettes had the DNA of David Ellsworth Widmer.

In the ensuing months, investigators learned Widmer and an accomplice, Rocky Crabtree, sought to rob Lee. Detectives believe both men, who were convicted felons, were responsible for Lee’s death.

Crabtree died in 1990. Widmer died last year.

Investigators say they have notified Lee’s family of their findings. They believe if both men were alive, they would have been charged.

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