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Isanti businessman, father charged in 1993 cold case murder

He's accused of killing 35-year-old Jeanne Ann Childs in Minneapolis.
Jeanie Childs

Jeanne Ann "Jeanie" Childs.

A businessman and father from Isanti County in Minnesota has been charged with the murder of a 35-year-old woman in Minneapolis in 1993.

The arrest of Jerry Westrom, 52, of Isanti, was made this past week in Waite Park after a cold case review that saw DNA evidence re-analyzed with the help of genealogy websites.

That led police to Westrom, who has been charged with the second-degree murder of Jeanne Ann Childs in 1993.

Childs was the victim of a brutal attack in which she was stabbed and cut around 25 times, including several times that were inflicted after she died.

She was found in the bedroom of her Minneapolis apartment on the 3100 block of Pillsbury Avenue South, where she had been working as a prostitute, according to a criminal complaint.

Evidence collected from the scene would later be re-analyzed for DNA, including the comforter, a blue towel hanging in the bathroom, a washcloth found on the toilet seat, and a blood stain from the sink.

Investigators were able to get a DNA sample from Westrom after tracking him to a hockey game last month, and picking up a napkin that he discarded after wiping his mouth.

They learned that Westrom, who had grown up in Elbow Lake in west-central Minnesota, had lived in the Twin Cities metro from April 9, 1991 to Dec. 31, 1993.

He also had a conviction for soliciting prostitution in February 2016.

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A farmer and businessman

Westrom's blog said that he studied agricultural business and economics at the University of Minnesota, graduating in 1989, before later going on to own an organic corn farm in Isanti.

The Isanti County News reports that he also previously owned several businesses in the Cambridge area, including the local Sears, the former Westrom's Corner gas station, and the former Sinclair gas station.

The Star Tribune describes him as a "hockey dad" to his two, now grown children, and was a local supporter of youth athletics.

When questioned by police, Westrom denied ever being at Childs' apartment complex, denied recognizing Childs, and denied having had sex with any women in Minneapolis in 1993.

He said he had no idea why his DNA would be present at the scene.

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