A town of 100 was shocked to learn of an 81-year-old's murder. Now, decades later, police have yet to solve her killing.

minnesota cold case
Source: Sterns County Sheriff’s Office; Unsplash

Mar. 7 2022, Published 2:21 p.m. ET

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Myrtle Vera Cole, 81, lived alone in her Minnesota home in a town of about 100 residents. Her husband had passed away several years earlier.

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The town was shocked to find out on a December morning the 81-year-old woman was the victim of a murder. That was in 1981. Now, four decades later, police still hope to one day solve her homicide case.

Around 10:15 a.m. on Dec. 12, 1981, the c learned about Cole being found dead in her Fairhaven, Minnesota home.

A family member found her dead as the result of “homicidal violence,” according to the sheriff’s office.

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Cole lived by herself and was well-known in the community, according to the sheriff’s office. The town was small, only having a tavern, grocery store, church and city hall.

The best piece of evidence from the crime scene was a bloody palmprint found on a pillowcase, investigators told WCCO in December. A month ago, the agency marked 40 years since Cole was killed, but detectives continue to work to find the killer in the cold case.

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“As time has evolved for us in law enforcement in general, with science and technology we’re able to reevaluate that evidence, so we’re presently doing that,” Stearns County Sheriff Steve Soyka told WCCO.


Investigators believed Cole was strangled and stabbed after the suspect broke through a window.

Police are still asking for the public’s help for a tip that can help close the case. Anyone with information is asked to call (800) 255-1301.

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“It’s very frustrating when you can’t solve a crime and you have to leave it sitting their open,” Soyka told the TV station.

Verna Salmela was raising her children in the area where Cole was found dead. She said her mother-in-law was friends with Cole and was changed after the murder.

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“It was unbelievable that a small town like ours that something like that should happen,” Salmela told WCCO.

minnesota cold case
Source: Sterns County Sheriff’s Office; Unsplash

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