Second Michigan murder suspect arrested in young woman’s deadly abduction

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Michigan authorities have made a second arrest in connection with the 1980 murder of 21-year-old Karen Umphrey.

The St. Clair County Sheriff’s Office on Feb. 8 announced the arrest of Anthony Harris, 63, in connection with Umphrey’s murder – approximately two months after they arrested Douglas Laming, 70, in the same case.

“Working with the Michigan State Police and Othram, a company specializing in forensic genetic genealogy, information was uncovered that previously would have been impossible to find,” the sheriff’s office said in a December 2023 press release announcing Laming’s arrest. “From there, St. Clair County Sheriff’s Office detectives spoke to many people that were connected to the victim and suspect over 40 years ago, gathering information and making vital connections.”

Umphrey was found dead in the State Game Area in Beards Hills, near Port Huron, on the morning of Nov. 2, 1980, according to the sheriff’s office. 

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The 21-year-old had gotten into an argument with her boyfriend in the early morning hours of Nov. 2, according to The Port Huron Times-Herald. Her boyfriend reportedly began walking home, so Umphrey parked her car and began to follow him.

Around 3:30 a.m. on Nov. 2, a driver contacted Port Huron police and reported seeing a woman being forced into a truck. 

Later that day, hunters found Umphrey’s body about 600 feet from the road with two gunshot wounds to her head, The Port Huron Times-Herald reported, citing investigators.

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Authorities were unable to determine any suspects at the time, and the case went cold for four decades.

In 2022, the Michigan State Police (MSP) sent evidence collected from the crime scene to Othram, a forensic genetic genealogy company specializing in resolving unsolved murder cases. Scientists found a match, and authorities arrested Laming a year later.

“At the time, it was not publicly announced that DNA belonging to another contributor was discovered at the crime scene,” reads a blog post on DNA Solves, a database owned by Othram.

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In 2023, MSP submitted additional DNA evidence to Othram, and “a second DNA profile belonging to the second unknown suspect was developed using Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing®.”

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“Othram’s in-house forensic genetic genealogy team used the genealogical profile to produce new investigative leads,” a blog post states. “The leads were returned to [MSP] who continued their investigative work with St. Clair County Sheriff Department officials to identify the second suspect in the murder of Karen Umphrey. This follow up investigation led to the identification of 63-year-old Anthony Harris.”

Laming and Harris are both charged with open murder.

A St. Clair County court set a $2 million bond for each suspect, and Laming has a hearing scheduled for Feb. 20.

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