APD Found a Suspect in a Decades-Old Murder Case, but Then He Killed Himself

DNA led them to the suspect

Sgt. Melanie Rodriguez speaks at the Feb. 8 press conference (Photo by Naina Srivastava)

The Austin Police Department finally cracked a 29-year-old murder cold case last year. But within a few days of APD contacting the suspect this past September, he committed suicide, APD announced Thursday.

Burt Allen Mann, the victim, was killed in 1994 after a burglar stabbed him multiple times, Sgt. Melanie Rodriguez said. DNA evidence confirmed the attacker was likely Kenneth Wayne Robbins. Robbins previously had a couple of arrests for nonviolent misdemeanors, Det. Joseph Jedynak said. Over 20 detectives worked on this case.

“I would like to personally thank [the detectives] for their dedication and their perseverance to getting an answer for this family,” Rodriguez said.

Robbins was identified as a possible suspect in June using genetic genealogy from blood found at the scene. Jedynak tracked Robbins to an address in Lubbock. He and another detective traveled to find the suspect there on Sept. 8.

“They found the subject at his business place, at the end of one of his shifts, served him with the search warrant and took a sample of his DNA,” Rodriguez said. “At that time the suspect did not want to talk to my detectives.”

On Sept. 13, owners of a trucking company contacted Jedynak, who said the Robbins’ truck in Weatherford, Texas, had suspiciously not moved for a long time. Weatherford police found Robbins dead in his truck. An autopsy confirmed the cause of death was suicide. If he remained alive, police would have arrested Robbins on suspicion of capital murder.

Jedynak, who told Mann’s wife and sister of the news, said the family had complex feelings about the revelation.

“They are happy enough to have an answer as to the who, I don’t know that they will ever have an answer as to the why,” Rodriguez said. “And I don’t know, quite honestly, if any of those answers would be sufficient for their grief.”

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