Cold case murder suspect to face trial

Left: Mary Lynn Vialpando. Middle: Suspect, James Papol.  Right: DNA Phenotyping of the suspect...
Left: Mary Lynn Vialpando. Middle: Suspect, James Papol. Right: DNA Phenotyping of the suspect released before the arrest of Papol.(KKTV)
Published: Sep. 27, 2018 at 5:51 PM MDT
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UPDATE 3/1/19:

A judge ruled to move this decade old case to trial.

James Papol is facing first degree murder charges for brutally killing and sexually assaulting Mary Lynn Renkel Vialpando. Her body was found in 1988 in an alley in Old Colorado City.

Witnesses told a judge they matched DNA to that of James Papol. DNA was taken at the murder scene but it took more than a decade to match the DNA to Papol.

Investigators involved in the case say they previously talked to Papol's mom. She told them Papol called her in a frantic state when he was in a mental hospital. He told her he was nervous because investigators had shown up at the hospital to take a DNA sample from him.

Papol's attorneys told the judge they believed he was not mental competent to be in court for his hearing. A judge ruled that he must have a mental evaluation.

A court date is set for April 5th to discuss the result of the evaluation.

Papol is being held without bond.


PREVIOUS 1/2/19:

The man accused of brutally killing a young mother 30 years ago will be tried as an adult.

James Papol's attorney wanted the judge to move this case to juvenile court. On Wednesday the judge made several decisions on how this case should move forward. The judge also ordered Papol to be moved to the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo to receive medication and care.

Papol was only 15 when the crime happened. In June of 1988 police found 24-year-old Mary Lynn Renkel Vialpando raped and beaten to death in an alley in Old Colorado City. It took police three decades to charge Papol for the murder of Mary Lynn.

11 News spoke with the victim's sister when the arrest was made.

"I don't know what closure feels like," Cynthia Renkel said in reference to her sister. "I can't imagine I'll ever have closure, but we'll see what happens in the future. I have no closure now. I have some relief."

Papol is scheduled to return back to court on March 1 for the preliminary hearing. That's when we could learn more about the evidence prosecutors have against Papol.



The attorney's for a man facing charges in a decades-old murder case are debating the idea of whether or not he should be charged as a juvenile or adult.

James Papol was a teenager when the murder of Mary Lynn Renkel Vialpando occurred in 1988. He was arrested this year for the cold-case crime. When he was first arrested he was facing the murder charges as an adult.



11 News has learned new details about the arrest of a man facing murder charges for a decades-old cold case after the records were made public Thursday.

On Tuesday, 11 News reported a

for the arrest of James Papol. The records department told our reporter that in their computer system, it was as if the case did not exist.

Authorities announced they had

on Sept. 20 in connection with the murder of Mary Lynn Renkel Vialpando. On June 5, 1988, she was found dead in the alley north of the 2600 block of West Colorado Avenue. She was 24 at the time she died of blunt-force trauma to the head. The arrest papers stated she was also stabbed in the chest and stomach area three times and was sexually assaulted.

According to the documents, DNA was collected from eight men at the time of the murder, including Vialpando’s husband, but authorities said they were not a match for the DNA found on Vialpando’s body.

The court documents also reveal investigators had a DNA hit matching Papol on Nov. 30, 2017. In earlier interviews, District Attorney Dan May said this was one of the first cases in Colorado to collect DNA for evidence testing.

“You have to know that at that time, there were no crime labs in the country that tested for DNA,” May said.

Over the years, the Colorado Springs Police Department’s Cold Case Unit developed new DNA profiles as the technology changed.

The case was entered into the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System in 2008 and the case was reviewed in 2010, but there were never any DNA matches, according to the arrest papers.

On June 13, police interviewed Papol at the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo. He declined to make a statement, but police did collect a sample of his DNA with a warrant, according to the documents.

It took about a month to get the DNA results. On July 10, the lab report confirmed the match with Papol.

“The estimated frequency of this DNA profile in the general population is approximately 1 in 3.6 nonillion. A nonillion is defined as a cardinal number represented in the United States by 1 followed by thirty (30) zeroes,” the document stated.

The report details how police interviewed three women in August who stated they had been in relationships Papol in the past. According to the women’s interviews, all three said Papol was violent and aggressive toward them. Two of the women said Papol had “hinted” that he had killed someone.

Police also interviewed Papol’s mother on Aug. 16. She told investigators that at the time of the murder, she, Papol and her other children were staying at a motel across the street from where Vialpando’s body was found.

According to the court documents, Papol’s mother told police she remembered Papol leaving for a couple hours the night of the murder, and she remembered being woken up by sirens in the morning.

Papol’s mother told police that Papol told her he saw a body on a hill, touched it to see if it was alive and then the body rolled down a hill. Papol told his mom his DNA would be all over the body because of that. He also told her he stole jewelry from the body, according to the paperwork.

Papol is facing first-degree murder charges. He’s currently in the El Paso County Jail awaiting an Oct. 4 court date.