A Zion man has been arrested and charged with murder in a cold case from 2000 where a 37-year-old woman was found strangled to death in Wisconsin, authorities announced.
Linda Fields, 37, was found dead in the front yard of a home on Lake Avenue in Racine, Wisconsin, on February 24, 2000.
Fields was found underneath a low-hanging pine tree and an autopsy showed she was strangled.
Multiple DNA samples were collected. A lab report in May 2001 indicated that all of the samples were identical and the extracted DNA came from a single unknown male, according to Racine Police Department Sgt. Kristi Wilcox Public Information Officer.
The DNA profile was entered into the casework index of the Wisconsin DNA databank, the Wisconsin convicted felons’ databank and the national DNA databank with no match.
“Countless witnesses” were interviewed by the lead investigator before the case was reassigned in 2005 and again in 2012.
The DNA of five suspects was compared with the unknown male DNA and all five were eventually eliminated as suspects, Wilcox said.
Samples that were collected but had not been sent to the lab were submitted for testing in 2005.
Male DNA was identified on one of the items that were submitted for testing. The sample was found to have the same DNA profile as the other DNA that was found.
Investigators were instructed in August 2020 to take another look into the case, Wilcox said.
In 2021, investigators determined there was enough DNA extract to move forward with an investigative genetic genealogy (IGG) analysis.
Investigators in January 2022 met with members of the Wisconsin State Crime Laboratory and determined that a familial DNA search could be conducted due to the available DNA.
Wilcox said a familial search would identify potential close relatives to a person of interest.
It was determined that a male person of interest had a brother and a father that was still living.
Wilcox said a plan was developed to collect a DNA sample from the brother.
With the help of the FBI, DNA was collected from the brother and submitted to the crime lab. The brother was eliminated as a potential suspect.
The attention was directed toward the father, Lucas Alonso, 66, in December.
Police in Alabama helped investigators in determining Alonso was possibly residing in Birmingham, Alabama.
A plan was developed to collect DNA from Alonso in Alabama but investigators learned that he had traveled to Zion and was residing there.
A search warrant was eventually written to collect Alonso’s DNA.
A DNA sample was obtained from the man last month and sent to the lab for comparison.
Earlier this month, the crime lab found that Alonso was a match to the DNA taken from Linda Fields.
The odds of DNA of a randomly selected person matching the DNA collected from Linda Fields are one in one quadrillion, Wilcox said.
Alonso was detained at his place of employment in Racine.
He was brought in for questioning and eventually charged with first-degree homicide, Wilcox said.