Investigative genealogy links deceased rural New Albin resident to “I-65 Murders” cold cases

Harry Greenwell ... Undated booking photo provided by Indiana State Police.

More than 30 years after three young women were murdered, and another was assaulted but survived, the man responsible has reportedly been identified using investigative genealogy, according to information released last Tuesday, April 5 by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) Field Office in Indianapolis, IN. The four cold case crimes took place from February 1987 through January 1990 at hotel locations in Kentucky and Indiana and have been dubbed the I-65 or Days Inn Murders, due to their location and proximity to Interstate 65 in those two states.

The suspect recently identified through the investigative genealogy process as responsible for the crimes was Harry Edward Greenwell, a native of Louisville, KY whose obituary states that he was “of New Albin” when he died January 31, 2013 at the age of 68 following a battle with cancer. That obituary was published in the February 6, 2013 edition of The Standard and further stated that Greenwell worked on railroad track maintenance for many years before retiring from Canadian Pacific Railroad in 2010. The obituary also stated that he was survived, at that time, by his wife, Julie Jenkins, a son, a daughter, five sisters and two brothers.

Allamakee County land records indicate that Greenwell owned a home just south of New Albin on State Highway 26 in the late 1990s. Following his death, that property was sold by his surviving wife in 2015.

Initially following the crimes listed above, the Indiana State Police laboratory matched ballistic evidence linking two of the murders that happened March 3, 1989 approximately 55 miles apart in Indiana before also linking the same evidence to the February 1987 murder in Kentucky and, eventually, the January 1990 assault in Indiana, from which the surviving victim provided a physical description of her assailant.

In 2019, the Indiana State Police requested the assistance of the FBI’s Gang Response Investigative Team (GRIT) in further investigating the cases. Since the time those crimes were committed, investigative and scientific techniques have either improved or been created through new advances in technology, according to the FBI release. One of these methods is Investigative Genealogy and combines the use of DNA analysis with traditional genealogy research and historical records to generate investigative leads for unsolved violent crimes.

This technique involves uploading a crime scene DNA profile to one or more genetic genealogy databases in an attempt to identify a criminal offender’s genetic relatives and locate the offender within their family lineage. Utilizing this process, a match was made to Greenwell with a close family member.

Through this match, it was determined that the probability of Greenwell being the person responsible for the attacks was 99.99 percent.

Greenwell had an extensive criminal history ranging from 1963 to 1998. State of Iowa court documents also show that he had criminal, traffic and money judgment cases he was involved with in Allamakee County from 1997 through 2003, although none of them involved severity anywhere close to what has been most recently revealed.

Allamakee County Sheriff Clark Mellick noted that his department worked in cooperation with authorities leading the investigation into Greenwell’s involvement with those cold cases. “We were contacted by various other law enforcement agencies, and we shared our files and information with them,” he explained.

Sheriff Mellick also noted that his department continues, and will continue, to work with other agencies as more and more cold case crimes are being looked further into now that Greenwell has been identified. Although he could not share further details about any such ongoing cooperation, he did reassure that there is nothing within Allamakee County that is being further looked into.

“We’re fortunate that we don’t have any such cases here in Allamakee County,” Sheriff Mellick shared. “I imagine there are going to be a number of old case files throughout the Midwest that will be looked at again to see if there is any connection, now that this identification has been made.”

“Indiana State Police investigators work diligently every day, in close collaboration with our state and federal law enforcement partners all across Indiana and beyond our state lines, to help solve senseless crimes like this, no matter how many days, months or even years have passed since the crime occurred,” said Indiana State Police Superintendent Douglas G. Carter.

“These cases did not go unsolved all these years because of a lack of investigative inactivity - investigators continuously tracked leads across the country and did everything they could to identify the person responsible for these crimes,” said FBI Indianapolis Special Agent in Charge Herbert J. Stapleton.

“Now, through technological advances and strong, collaborative partnerships we were able to identify this person and, hopefully, start to bring closure and healing to the families; as well as the surviving victim.”