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Man pleads guilty to 1980 stabbing death of Minneapolis woman


The man accused of fatally stabbing 22-year-old Mary Steinhart in her south Minneapolis apartment 33 years ago pleaded guilty Thursday in Hennepin County District Court.

KARE 11 reports DNA identified 58-year-old Robert Skogstad of Edgerton, Kan. as a suspect in the homicide as part of the city's cold case initiative.

Skogstad pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and is expected to be sentenced to more than 11 years in prison based on what sentencing guidelines called for in 1980.

The Star Tribune reports Steinhart was a medical technician at a downtown Minneapolis urology clinic and had missed two days of work before her body was discovered on the bedroom floor of her Girard Ave. S. apartment with more than two dozen stab wounds.

The medical examiner determined Steinhart was killed on Nov. 25, 1980 and she had been dead for at least 24 hours before her body was found.

The newspaper said investigators located the murder weapon, a butcher knife, in the waste basket.

Sgt. Barb Moe and Sgt. Tammy Diedrich of the Minneapolis homicide unit picked up Steinhart's case in 2008. Using DNA technology that wasn't available at the time of Steinhart's death, investigators were able to link fibers found at the crime scene and preserved in an evidence locker to Skogland in 2010.

Detectives learned Skogland previously lived in the Twin Cities and had worked as a caretaker at Steinhart's apartment building.

In 1988, Skogstad was convicted of burglary and rape in California. His DNA profile collected from that crime was not entered into a national database until 20 years later.

After tracking Skogland down in Kansas, a second DNA sample was collected. which also matched the DNA found at the scene of Steinhart's murder.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said it's the oldest cold case his office has successfully prosecuted.

Skogstad is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 6.

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