Hamilton police get break in 20-year-old cold case

HAMILTON, Ohio -- For 20 years, the family members of a slain Hamilton man have been waiting for a break in his case.

Now investigators may finally have the answers they’ve been looking for.

Police said 76-year-old Emerson Skinner was found stabbed to death in his home at 716 Ludlow St. on Oct. 18, 1994.

Detectives found several defensive wounds and human hairs clinched in Skinner’s hands and said it was apparent he fought back against his attacker.

Throughout the years, officers said they interviewed 28 people as possible suspects but no one was linked to Skinner’s death.

But thanks to several detectives and advances in DNA testing, police were able to establish a DNA profile for the suspect.

Authorities said the profile didn’t match any people in CODIS (Combined DNA Index System.) However, Hamilton investigators also sent 28 hair samples to be tested.

The department said it received notification on Tuesday the DNA profile was matched to 49-year-old Wendell Proffitt.Detectives said Proffitt was one of the suspects early on, but they were unable to link him to the incident. Police said Proffitt died from a drug overdose in 2002.

When Proffitt’s surviving family members heard the news Friday, they were devastated.

“No way. None of us ever thought he would do something like that. Not to Mr. Skinner,” Proffitt’s mother Lucille Proffitt said. “He was too good of a, he was like a father to all of us. He was like a father to my kids.

Lucille said her son would often cut the grass for Skinner, their neighbor who lived a simple life.

“It's difficult for me” she said. “I've cried all day about it. I just can't believe it.”

Officials said Proffitt had an extensive record with the Hamilton Police Department including a felonious assault charge in 1996.

Hamilton police officials commended Detectives James Smith and Steve Rogers, as well as previous and retired detectives, for their work on the case.

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