DNA from ‘chewing gum survey’ tied suspect to 1976 murder

Posted Oct. 17, 2012, at 3:52 p.m.
Last modified Oct. 17, 2012, at 7 p.m.
Gary Raub
Maine State Police
Gary Raub

AUGUSTA, Maine — A transient living in the Seattle area was tied by DNA evidence to a 36-year-old murder case in Augusta because he took part in an undercover “chewing gum survey” that police staged this past July, according to court documents.

Gary Sanford Raub, 63, who was going by the name Gary Robert Wilson in 1976, was arrested Monday night in Seattle and charged with murder in the connection with the death of Blanche M. Kimball, whose body was found in her State Street home on June 12, 1976.

Maine State Police Detective Abbe Chabot took over the cold case in 2003, according to an affidavit she filed in Kennebec County Superior Court.

After interviewing previous investigators and going over the evidence, Chabot and other state police investigators concluded that some of the blood found at the crime scene belonged to someone other than Kimball.

Raub, who was the prime suspect in Kimball’s murder from the beginning, was homeless in the University District of Seattle last fall when he was suspected in the stabbing of another transient on Oct. 17, 2011, according to the affidavit.

Chabot worked with Seattle police to match blood from the knife used in the Seattle stabbing to the blood found at the Augusta murder scene.

“The eight locus DNA profile obtained from the human bloodstained swab of the drawer face [in Kimball’s home] is consistent with the six locus DNA profile obtained from the swab of the knife blades [from the Seattle stabbing],” Jennifer Sabean, a forensic DNA analyst for the Maine State Police Crime Lab, said in the affidavit.

The estimated probability of selecting an unrelated individual at random from the FBI Caucasian population database was 1 in 399 million, Sabean concluded.

On July 18, 2012, Seattle police Detective Michael Ciesynski posed as a market researcher and asked Raub to participate in a “chewing gum survey,” for which he would be paid $5, according to the affidavit. Raub agreed.

The gum Raub chewed was then sent to the Maine State Police Crime Lab, where Sabean concluded that the DNA from the chewing gum was “consistent with both the epithelial cells found on the knife attributed to [Raub] as well as the passive blood drop found on the kitchen drawer of the crime scene at Blanche Kimball’s residence in 1976,” read the affidavit.

Back in 1976, Raub told investigators that he knew Kimball and stayed with her for one or two weeks as a renter before moving to different location.

Kimball was 70 when she was found dead in her Augusta home. Police determined that she was murdered between June 2 and June 12, 1976.

State police Detective Lyndon Abbot said in his report that Kimball’s body was in a state of decomposition when he arrived at the crime scene, according to the affidavit. She was found on her back on a daybed or couch in a first-floor living room of the farmhouse.

“There was blood throughout the area, and her clothing was pulled up exposing her pubic area,” said Chabot’s affidavit. “[Abbot] noted that the room showed signs of a struggle, with broken glass on the floor and blood located on the ceiling, wall, lampshades, furniture and floor.”

There was more blood in the kitchen on the refrigerator door, on the handle of a knife that had a bent blade, and on the front drawers and an inside drawer of a kitchen cupboard containing knives. Blood on that drawer would later be connected to Raub.

Dr. Henry Ryan, the state’s chief medical examiner at the time, went to the crime scene and on June 13, 1976, conducted an autopsy on Kimball’s body. It determined that she had been stabbed 25 times in the chest and abdomen and had 16 cuts to her head and three cuts to her hands.

A bloody footprint on a blue cardboard box top was also recovered from the crime scene.

The residence was secured, so Abbot concluded that the killer exited through a broken and unsecured window on the second floor.

Raub told police at the time that he was aware of the broken window overlooking Kimball’s porch roof. He said he had repaired it with cardboard. He added that he had only one pair of sneakers, which he purchased on June 11, 1976, and threw his old shoes in the dump. His old shoes were never recovered.

“[Raub] denied any involvement in Blanche Kimball’s death but provide[d] a limited accounting of his movements on June 6 through June 11, 1976,” read the affidavit.

Augusta police Officer Lee Clement said Raub became the primary suspect in part after Raub was caught trying to break into Kimball’s home after the murder.

Clement told Chabot that Raub was “apprehended after he gained entry into the woman’s home via the basement,” read the affidavit.

Raub left Maine two to four years after the murder, Clement told Chabot.

Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Stephen McCausland said late Wednesday afternoon that Raub is scheduled to appear in a Washington state court on Thursday. He said he didn’t expect Raub to be returned to Maine in the immediate future.

“There’s nothing definitive as to when he’s going to come back to Maine,” said McCausland.

State police used DNA evidence in the past few years to solve another cold case.

On Sept. 27, Jay Mercier of Industry was convicted of murder in the July 1980 slaying of Rita St. Peter in Anson after DNA evidence was taken from a cigarette butt he discarded while talking with Maine State Police Detective Bryant Jacques in 2010. Mercier is currently awaiting sentencing.

Raub’s arrest now marks the record for oldest cold case arrest in Maine history at 36 years.

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