MINNEAPOLIS -- DNA on a bloody washcloth led to the arrest of a Minnesota man in the fatal stabbing of a woman in Minneapolis 27 years ago, according to a murder charge filed Thursday.
The Hennepin County attorney's office charged Donald Clifton Jenkins Jr., 56, of South St. Paul with second-degree murder. Jenkins is in jail on $1 million bail. He's expected to make his first court appearance Friday.
Jenkins was arrested in the death of 20-year-old Belinda Thompson, who prosecutors say was the girlfriend of Jenkins' friend. Police were called to Thompson's apartment on Dec. 19, 1991, in south Minneapolis and found her body on the floor of her bedroom, according to the criminal complaint. She had been stabbed seven times in the front and four times in the back.
The case went cold the following year, but in 2008 homicide detectives submitted the bloody washcloth that had been found in the bathroom of Thompson's apartment to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for DNA testing, which was not previously available. A DNA sample from Jenkins determined his DNA could not be excluded from the mixture on the washcloth, but 99.1 percent of the population could be, according to the criminal complaint.
Jenkins told detectives he had cut his knuckle while working on a vehicle at Thompson's apartment.
But then on Tuesday, the day before the anniversary of the killing, detectives interviewed Jenkins again and he told them, "My DNA is there, I did it," according to the complaint.
Jenkins told investigators he was not supposed to go to Thompson's apartment when her boyfriend was not there, the complaint said. He added that he was "chasing dope" when he went to the apartment and did not think anyone would be home, and that he stabbed Thompson because he believed her boyfriend would kill him for coming to the residence alone, according to the complaint.
Court records do not list a defense attorney who could speak for Jenkins.
After the killing, officers found that one of the knives from a set in the kitchen of Thompson's apartment was missing. A bloody knife was found tucked in between the couch cushions and matched the set, the complaint said.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said his office appreciated the "tenacious detective work" of the Minneapolis Police Department and the FBI.
"Although it does not change what happened to Ms. Thompson, we hope it will bring some closure to her family who have suffered with not knowing who murdered her for so many years," Freeman said in a news release.