Arapahoe County Judge Darren Vahle sentenced David Dwayne Anderson, 63, to life in prison for killing Sylvia Quayle, 34, in her home back in 1981. The sentence comes exactly 41 years after her murder.
On August 4, 1981, Quayle was found dead inside her Cherry Hills home in the 3800 block of S. Ogden Street. The Coroner’s report revealed Quayle had been shot in the head, repeatedly stabbed and sexually assaulted.
“The brutality and randomness of this crime is every parent’s worst nightmare,” Deputy District Attorney Grant Grosgebauer said. “After he murdered Sylvia, he went on to live his life as if everything was normal. He got to experience marriage and kids. Sadly, Sylvia never got to experience those things.”
In 2000, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) submitted a DNA sample to the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System, also known as CODIS. The DNA sample remained unidentified for two decades until advances in DNA linked Anderson to the crime.
In 2020, the Cherry Hills Village Police Department began working with a genetic genealogy company named United Data Connect. The company provided the police department with a possible lead after samples from the decades-old cold case were entered into two public DNA databases.
In 2021, an investigator with United Data Connect went to Anderson’s residence to discretely obtain a new DNA sample. That investigator collected trash bags from an apartment complex dumpster where Anderson resided. Lab results found DNA on a soda can from Anderson’s trash bag matched DNA collected from the crime scene.
Anderson was charged with two counts of first-degree murder (After Deliberation and Felony Murder) and initially went to trial in March 2022. After five days, jurors were unable to reach a verdict and a judge declared a mistrial.
The 18th Judicial District Attorney’s office took the case to trial again and on June 30, 2022, a jury returned guilty verdicts on both counts of murder. However, legal precedent only allows a defendant convicted of a single homicide to be sentenced on one homicide charge.
“Sylvia’s murder turned my family’s world upside down,” Jo Hamit, Sylvia’s sister said. “For the past 41 years, Sylvia missed out on family celebrations and numerous social occasions. Mr. Anderson has lived for the last four decades without giving his crime or my sister a second thought, while my family has suffered irreparable mental and emotional anguish during this time of uncertainty. I have found it necessary to forgive Mr. Anderson, but he needs to bear the consequences of his actions.”
Based on the sentencing laws in effect at the time of the crime, Anderson received the maximum sentence—life behind bars with the possibility of parole after 20 calendar years.
“As decades passed, many people thought this case would remain unsolved forever,” District Attorney John Kellner said. “Advancements in science combined with the tenacity of investigators and prosecutors led to justice today.”