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Investigators seek new tips in 1977 cold case killing of 19-year-old on Iron Range

The 45th anniversary of the Cindy Joy Elias' death is this week.
Cindy Joy Elias

Authorities are appealing for the public's help to identify the person who killed 19-year-old Cindy Joy Elias ahead of the 45th anniversary of her death. 

Elias' body was found buried under a pile of brush off a logging road about 8 miles north of Aurora, Minnesota, the morning of March 24, 1977. Police said she died from traumatic injuries to her head. 

Elias, a college student from Eveleth, had last been seen at a bar in Virginia about 12:30 a.m. on March 24. A witness said she was looking for a ride home and mentioned she was going to hitchhike. 

The bar where Elias was last seen was about a half-hour drive from where her body was found. 

The cold case is one of the oldest in Minnesota. The 45th anniversary of Elias' killing is on Thursday. Authorities are hoping to bring closure to her family and friends and bring those responsible for killing her to justice.

The St. Louis County Sheriff's Office is asking anyone who may have information on this case to contact them at 218-749-7134 or contact the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension's cold case homicide unit.

There is a $50,000 reward being offered for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for Elias' death.

Investigators do believe those responsible are locals and are familiar with the area because of where her body was found, according to a Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension poster.

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The person who killed Elias has never been publicly identified nor charged. However, there have been suspects. The Duluth News Tribune last year highlighted a suspect in the case. Richard Floyd Little, a man from the Iron Range, was "nearly charged" in connection to Elias' death. 

DNA found at the crime scene was a familial match to Little, the paper said. However, due to contradictory evidence, there was never enough to refer the case to the county attorney's office for charges. 

Little was convicted of killing 55-year-old Louella LeTourneau in 1993. He died in prison in 2016 and denied ever having contact with Elias, the paper notes. 

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