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William Hurst Gets Life in Wife’s 1982 Death

The disappearance of Amy Rose Hurst from her New Port Richey home had been a Pasco County cold case for decades until DNA evidence was used to identify a body found months after the woman went missing.

Pasco County Sheriff’s detectives have one less cold case in their files.

William Hurst of Kentucky was sentenced last week to life in prison, following a Pasco jury’s decision to convict him on a first-degree murder charge in relation to the death of his wife, Amy Rose Hurst, in 1982, Channel 10 is reporting.

Amy Rose Hurst disappeared from her New Port Richey home in the 80s. A few months later, a body found wrapped in an afghan, tied to a cement block, was discovered in the Gulf of Mexico. That body was eventually classified as a Jane Doe because a positive identification couldn’t be made.

While Pasco detectives questioned Amy Rose’s husband, William Hurst, they could not make a charge stick. Without a body, there wasn't a crime, Channel 10 says.

Hurst’s body was brought by the U.S. Coast Guard to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office as a Jane Doe, and she was interred in a Hillsborough County cemetery in the 1980s. In 2001, Hurst’s body was exhumed during the investigation of what turned out to be an unrelated cold case.

Her body underwent a second autopsy that revealed her death to be a homicide by blunt force trauma, New Port Richey Patch reported in a 2011 story.

Eight years later, Hurst’s son Jeff Early, who was 9 when his mother went missing, contacted the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office after viewing the profile of the Jane Doe in the Doe Network, an international database for missing and unidentified persons.

The afghan described sounded like the one his grandmother had made Hurst and her sister, Judy.

Three years passed before the FBI labs finished testing the DNA, including nuclear DNA from Hurst’s skeletal remains and mitochondrial DNA from Early, to help make the identification.

“Most of us don’t have DNA lying around somewhere unless we are real lucky to get a toothbrush or something that belonged to the person to get their DNA,” Lisa Schoneman, the detective assigned to the case, said following the positive identification. “Most of the time it has to be gotten from the family members, then processed and put into the database.”

With a positive identification and proof of homicide, Schoneman was able to connect the dots in the case back to William Hurst. His first-degree murder charge and extradition from Kentucky was announced by the Pasco Sheriff’s Office in September 2011.

Hurst was sentenced to life in prison on April 4.

See Also:

  • Missing Woman's Body Identified After 30 Years
  • Man Arrested in Nearly 30-Year-Old Cold Case

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