Prosecutors say empty Four Loko can at burglary scene cracked 36-year-old cold-case murder in Seattle

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Douglas Richards (DOC photo)

Douglas Richards (DOC photo)

SEATTLE – An empty Four Loko can cracked a 36-year-old cold-case murder, King County prosecutors alleged in charging documents released Friday.

Douglas Richards was charged Friday with second-degree murder in the death of James Buss in 1980, back when Richards was 14 years old.

Buss, a 36-year-old Belltown hairdresser, was found beaten, strangled and stabbed to death in his blood-spattered apartment on April 9, 1980. A large bloody knife was found on the floor, and a second was found next to it with the point of the blade buried in the wooden floor.

Detectives at the time found seven blood samples that weren’t from Buss and, in 2002, submitted them to the Washington State Patrol for DNA analysis.

Fast-forward to May 22, 2012, and a burglary at a Seattle storage unit.

During the course of the investigation, police found an empty Four Loko can inside one of the units. They submitted it for fingerprints and a DNA profile – and got hits on both.

The DNA matched what was collected in the 1980 murder. The fingerprints matched Richards’.

Police arrested Richards on Wednesday, and said that while he described himself as “a little burglar” in the area at the time, he denied knowing Buss or being involved in the killing.

Richards, meanwhile, was convicted of 11 felonies and 13 gross misdemeanors in the years after Buss’ death. His crimes include everything from reckless burning and theft to DUI and assault.

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