Honolulu police crack 50-year-old cold-case killing

Sep. 14—A former Nevada deputy attorney general was arrested Tuesday, five decades after police allege he stabbed a young woman more than 60 times and left her body in a pool of blood in her Waikiki apartment.

A former Nevada deputy attorney general was arrested Tuesday, five decades after police allege he stabbed a young woman more than 60 times and left her body in a pool of blood in her Waikiki apartment.

Tudor Chirila, 77, was arrested by Reno Police Department officers on suspicion of second-­degree murder in connection with the Jan. 7, 1972, killing of 19-year-old Nancy Elaine Anderson at the Coral Terrace Apartments on Aloha Drive.

The teen was found unresponsive by her roommate in their seventh-floor unit. Anderson, a 1970 graduate of John Glenn High School in Bay City, Mich., had moved to Hawaii in October 1971 and was employed at the McDonald's restaurant in Ala Moana Center.

Following the fatal stabbing, Honolulu Police Department investigators conducted extensive investigations but did not turn up any viable leads. In recent months, though, a tip moved the cold case forward, and HPD investigators used Parabon NanoLabs, a DNA technology company in Virginia, to help identify the suspect through DNA comparison, according to police.

In an affidavit filed in support of Chirila's arrest warrant, HPD Detective Michael Ogawa detailed how police pursued the case through the decades. Beginning on the night Anderson was killed, Honolulu police interviewed and fingerprinted more than 30 witnesses, gathered bloodstained sheets and towels and conducted polygraph tests of close contacts.

Ogawa got a tip in late 2021 that Chirila could be Anderson's killer. In February, Ogawa reached out to Reno police and asked whether they could "surreptitiously " obtain a DNA sample from Chirila. Reno police Sgt. Laura Conklin and a team of officers spent weeks watching Chirila's Reno residence but did not find the right opportunity, according to the affidavit.

In March, Ogawa contacted the Newport Beach Police Department in California and asked for help getting a sample from Chirila's son, John. John Chirila confirmed for police that Tudor Chirila and his mother had lived in Honolulu before he was born.

The DNA sample was sufficient to cross-reference with DNA taken from the towel found on the floor of Anderson's bedroom, yielding a finding that it was very likely that John Chirila was the biological child of the person who left the blood on the towel.

That match secured a search warrant from a judge allowing Reno police, on Sept. 6, to administer a DNA swab on Tudor Chirila. Chirila tried to kill himself Thursday, Ogawa wrote in the affidavit. On Tuesday, HPD learned that three samples taken from the towel in Anderson's room matched DNA taken from Chirila.

Suspect snapshot One of the services employed by Honolulu police was DNA phenotyping, which is the process of predicting physical appearance and ancestry from unidentified DNA evidence, according to a description of Anderson's cold case on HPD's website. Using DNA evidence from this investigation, HPD contracted Parabon NanoLabs in Virginia to produce trait predictions for a person of interest, police said.

Individual predictions were made for the subject's ancestry, eye color, hair color, skin color, freckling and face shape. By combining these attributes of appearance, a snapshot composite was produced depicting what Chirila may have looked like at 25 years old, with an average body-mass index of 22. These default values were used because age and body-mass index cannot be determined from DNA, police said.

Snapshot composites are "scientific approximations of appearance based on DNA " and are not likely to be exact replicas of appearance, police said.

Brutal killing Anderson's roommate, Jody Spooner, 18. told police that on the day of the fatal stabbing, she came home at 2 :30 p.m. and found Anderson visiting with two male salesmen from Renaware Distributors. Spooner went to take a nap at about 2 :45 and heard the radio on and Anderson's shower running.

She thought she heard a scream at about 4 :15 p.m. but did not check on Anderson until about 5 :15 p.m. when she heard the radio on, the water still running and Anderson's door ajar. After finding Anderson on the floor, Spooner ran to a neighbor's in tears to call police, according to court records.

Spooner initially thought Anderson killed herself, according to court records, but upon arriving at the young women's apartment, two HPD officers found a blue-and-white towel with red stains near the apartment's entrance. Another officer found a bloodstained towel on the bottom step of upper lobby's stairwell, on the Ewa side of the building.

Anderson was lying on her back in a pool of blood on the floor of her room with stab wounds to her neck, chest, abdomen and both thighs. She also sustained lacerations to her upper left arm and puncture wounds to her left forearm, according to the affidavit.

Spooner told police that Anderson was "too friendly with strangers and that she would talk to anyone on the street without regard to her personal safety."

When Anderson was killed, Honolulu police said she was most likely slain by someone she knew and let into the apartment, according to a story that appeared in the The Honolulu Advertiser on Jan. 10, 1972. The seventh-floor lanai windows were closed and locked before Anderson was killed, police said at the time, and were still locked when her body was found.

The building had an elevator that tenants needed a key to use, which also secured the building, and the fire stairwell would not open from the lobby. Friends of Anderson and Spooner told police that sometimes the fire escape door was left open, and they would use it to access all levels of the complex, according to state court documents.

Chirila earned a master's degree in political science from UH in 1970, according to university registration records. Seven years later he graduated from the University of the Pacific's McGeorge School of Law.

Chirila practiced law for more than 40 years in Nevada and worked at the state level as a deputy attorney general and as a Carson City deputy district attorney. He ran unsuccessfully in September 1994 for a seat on the Nevada Supreme Court, securing 17, 805 votes, according to a 1994 article in the Reno Gazette-­Journal.

In May 1995, Chirila allegedly kidnapped his then-girlfriend ; bound her mouth, hands and legs with packing tape ; pinned her to the floor of their apartment ; and threatened to kill her with a pair of scissors if she left him, according to a report in the Gazette-Journal.

In that case, Chirila was initially charged with felony kidnapping, battery with intent to commit sexual assault and assault with a deadly weapon, according to a Jun. 4, 1995, Associated Press article. The charges were later dropped, and the files in the case sealed by a Nevada judge.