Investigation Discovery’s ‘On the Case With Paula Zahn: Righting a Wrong’ depicts how a 38-year-old mother of two, Nancy Daugherty, was murdered inside her Chisholm, Minnesota, home in July 1986. It took the police over three decades before they could solve the crime with the help of cutting-edge forensic technology and DNA analysis. If you’re interested in finding out what happened, including the killer’s identity and current whereabouts, we’ve you covered. Let’s begin then, shall we?
How Did Nancy Daugherty Die?
Nancy Daugherty worked as an aide in a nursing home and was a part-time bartender in Chisholm in St. Louis County, Minnesota, in July 1986. She also volunteered for the Chisholm Ambulance Service as an emergency medical technician. She married James Daugherty and had two children, including a daughter named Gina Haggard. James was employed with the Air National Guard and stationed in Germany around the time of the incident. Family members stated Nancy was planning on moving to the Twin Cities to further her schooling on July 16, 1986.
Hence, it was shocking when the Chisholm Police Department received a concerning 911 call from one of Nancy’s friends, Brian, around 3:30 pm on July 16. He claimed he was supposed to meet her at 9:00 am to help her move her furniture but had received no answer despite knocking repeatedly. He walked the residence’s perimeter and called her through the windows several times, thinking she had overslept. When Brian tried to enter the house, he found the door latched, which was unusual since Nancy never locked doors.
Brian was also suspicious after noticing the shades drawn but went away for the time being. He returned multiple times at different points of the day but still could not find her. Brian called several of her friends and family but discovered she was not with them either. Finally, he was concerned and requested the authorities to conduct a welfare check on Nancy. When the officers forced open the door and entered the apartment, they found the 38-year-old mother of two deceased on her bed. According to official reports, she had been sexually assaulted, beaten, and strangled to death.
Who Killed Nancy Daugherty?
After the responding officers found Nancy Daugherty’s body in her bedroom, they sealed the crime scene and surveyed the rest of the home for the perpetrator before calling for backup. When the homicide detectives arrived, they saw the residence was in disarray, with stuff knocked over on the floor from tables and counters. They also discovered the killer had stuffed the corpse under blankets, and one of her hands stuck out. A closer look at Nancy’s body revealed a blade of grass on her shoulder, indicating an outdoor struggle had occurred.
The police discovered a matted-down grassy area in Nancy’s backyard with her keys lying, which signified she had struggled with her perpetrator there. They found her glasses partially underneath the refrigerator, indicating the struggle might have continued there. The investigators uncovered fingerprints left by the alleged perpetrator in Nancy’s bathroom, while DNA evidence was retrieved from underneath her fingernails. However, they were not sure whether the struggle began, though the coroner confirmed she was killed in her bed.
The autopsy listed the cause of death as manual strangulation, and the medical examiner noted discovering recent scratches and abrasions on her shoulders and around her neck. The coroner’s report also confirmed she had been sexually assaulted. A rape kit found the perpetrator’s biological evidence, such as semen and other body fluids. However, forensic science and DNA analysis were still alien concepts in the mid-1980s, and the retrieved fingerprints were the most valuable evidence to the police in catching the rapist and killer.
The investigators interviewed Brian to learn they had been out drinking the night before and that he had dropped her off around 12:30 am. The authorities also canvassed the neighborhood and spoke with two girls, who reported hearing a struggle around 3:30 am, including a “call for help, screams and arguing.” According to the show, the two teenagers claimed the cries coming from Nancy’s apartment and even went to investigate. However, the shouting soon subsided, and it became eerily quiet.
The girls did not think of it much since they were aware Nancy and her husband were allegedly going through a divorce and chalked the screams down to a fight between the married couple. But they told the officers about spotting a green truck in Nancy’s driveway, similar to one owned by James. However, the police dismissed James as a suspect since he was in Germany. They also learned Nancy had an intimate relationship with Brian, who allegedly wanted to further the relationship, though the show claimed she was not interested.
Since he was the last person to see her alive, the officers looked into Brian and wondered whether he could have committed the heinous crime after being turned down. However, he was also ruled out after his fingerprints did not match the ones found in Nancy’s bathroom, and they had no other physical evidence to link him to the rape and murder. Forensic science evolved rapidly, and the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) laboratory had the technology to obtain a DNA suspect profile from bodily fluids found on the victim.
However, the DNA did not match any persons in the criminal DNA database. Over the years, investigators interviewed and collected DNA from more than 100 people. Periodic case reviews also happened over the years, but none led to a solid lead in the case, and frequent comparisons of evidence DNA to the DNA database did not result in a match. The investigators approached BCA in early 2020 and requested them to provide a sample of the DNA evidence to Parabon-NanoLabs.
The Virginia-based company analyzes public genealogy databases maintained by law enforcement programs to generate leads in unsolved cases. Parabon identified Michael Allan Carbo Jr., then 52, of Chisholm in July 2020 as a potential suspect. The investigators surveilled Michael in late July 2020 and stealthily obtained the DNA evidence sent to the BCA laboratory for analysis. The laboratory reported a DNA match on July 27, following which the authorities acquired a DNA sample directly from Michael with his consent.
Where is Michael Carbo Now?
When the BCA laboratory confirmed Michael’s DNA matched the sample retrieved from the crime scene, he was arrested on June 29, 2020, and charged with two counts of first-degree murder while committing criminal sexual conduct. According to the show, he was never a suspect in the initial murder investigation, and the investigators seemed not to have even heard of him. They found he was 18 in July 1986 and went to school with Nancy’s children. He lived within a mile of her residence, though it seemed she did not know him.
During his August 2022 trial, Michael’s defense argued their client and Nancy had consensual sex and implied one of her acquaintances killed her in a jealous rage after allegedly seeing them engaged in a sexual act. However, the court convicted him of all charges and sentenced him to life in October 2022. He will be eligible for parole after serving 17 years. According to official court records, the 55-year-old maintains his innocence and is serving his sentence at the Minnesota Correctional Facility – Rush City.