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Authorities say DNA aided in solving Shrewsbury cold case

Lonzo Guthrie Jr.

Douglas County Sheriff's Office/Reuters

Lonzo Guthrie Jr.

The man accused of killing a Shrewsbury woman in 1974 was familiar with the woman’s home because he had delivered furniture there about two days before she was killed, a prosecutor said Thursday.

Lonzo Guthrie Jr., a 69-year-old man from Douglas County, Ga., is charged with the murder of Eileen Ferro, a 21-year-old dental assistant.

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Ferro’s husband found her body inside the couple's home on Ladyslipper Lane Feb. 22, 1974.

“He [Guthrie] worked for a furniture delivery company, and he was at the scene within a day or two to the murder,’’ Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. said in a telephone interview.

On the day that Ferro was killed, Early said, Guthrie was “not there in his capacity as a furniture delivery man.’’

Early said investigators now know that shortly after Ferro was killed, Guthrie left Massachusetts and moved to California, where he was convicted of rape in that state later in 1974 and was sentenced to 30 years behind bars.

Guthrie served less than four years in prison in California, but as a convicted sex offender was required to provide his DNA profile to law enforcement.

‘He was at the scene within a day or two of the murder.’

JOSEPH D. EARLY JR., Worcester district attorney 
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Early said that State Police recently submitted for testing evidence that was collected at the time of the slaying and that blood recovered from the crime scene inside Ferro’s home matched Guthrie's DNA profile.

Early said the blood match was not the only forensic connection between the convicted rapist and Ferro. "There was [other] DNA in the house linking him directly to her,'' he said.

Authorities determined that Ferro was stabbed and her throat slashed, but no sexual assault had been committed.

Officials at the time were unclear on a motive. There was no sign of forced entry and the killing did not appear to be related to a robbery.

Guthrie was arrested Tuesday night by Massachusetts investigators and local authorities in Douglas County. He is fighting his return to Massachusetts in the Georgia courts and is not expected to be arraigned in Worcester Superior Court for several weeks.

John R. Ellement can be reached at ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.
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