The brutal murder of Priscilla Strole on August 31, 1983, left the residents of Fairfield, California, shaken to the core. Priscilla was found sexually assaulted and beaten to death in her own home while her son was away spending an evening with friends. Investigation Discovery delves into the case in ‘Betrayed: Welcome to the Murderhood’ and follows the police investigation, which remained stalled for quite a long time. Let’s dig deeper into the details of this case and find out if the alleged murderer is dead or alive, shall we?
How Did Priscilla Strole Die?
Priscilla Strole, 40, was a proud mother and shared a residence with her son in Fairfield, California. She was quite well-respected in society and was a valued member of her community. At the time of the murder, her son, Kyle Stracner, was a high school student, and it was he who first discovered the gruesome crime scene. It was indeed a dark day for Fairfield when Priscilla was found murdered in her own home.
On August 31, 1983, Kyle went out around 7:30 pm to hang out with his friends. He returned around 9:45 pm but was surprised when his mother did not answer the door even after repeated knocking. Sensing danger, the teen looked through the window and spotted Priscilla’s naked body lying on the living room floor. Kyle immediately ran to the neighbor’s house and informed the police.
The authorities arrived to find Priscilla completely naked. She was declared dead on the spot, and an autopsy later determined that she was sexually assaulted before being beaten to death. Moreover, her face and neck bore visible injury marks from being beaten with a can opener, a piece of wood, and kitchen knives. Authorities even claimed that there was visible proof of a violent altercation before the murder.
On investigating, the police found the furniture strewn around as if a robbery was committed. There was also a jewelry box missing from the house. Strangely though, there were no signs of a forced entry which hinted towards Priscilla knowing her attacker. The police were also able to lift off fingerprints and DNA samples from the scene of the crime.
Who Killed Priscilla Strole?
Robert Hathaway was suspected of the murder of Priscilla Strole. Although the police had DNA information and fingerprints from the start of their investigation, it did not bring up any leads when they ran it through their database. Furthermore, with no witnesses and a shortage of leads, the pace of the investigation slowly died down. The police kept up their efforts and interviewed anyone and everyone acquainted with Priscilla. However, her family was at a complete loss to understand why anyone would want to hurt her. Additionally, with no forced entry noted at the crime scene, authorities were sure that the perpetrator would be someone known to the victim.
Unfortunately, none of the methods paid off, and the police were at a loss. They even built up a list of suspects but managed to eliminate all of them. Thus, for almost 29 years, the case sat unsolved until it was picked up again in 2012. Detectives in 2012 decided to send in the DNA for testing once again. Once the test results came back, they ran the DNA and fingerprints against their database and surprisingly got a match. The fingerprints were run back in 1983, and in 1986, Robert Hathaway was arrested on a burglary charge. Thus, with his prints still in the system, the police found a perfect match.
Is Robert Hathaway Dead or Alive?
Through their investigation, the police found out that Robert Hathaway used to go to the same high school as Kyle Stracner. At the time of the murder, the two were well acquainted. This also explained why she let her attacker in herself. After being sure of Robert’s involvement in the crime, police officers decided to pay him a visit in 2014. They even had a warrant for Robert’s DNA Sample.
Robert, then 48, gave authorities his sample without any incident, although he denied being involved in the crime. His DNA matched perfectly with the crime scene one, and officers knew they had their man. Unfortunately, when the police went to arrest Robert, they found that he had already died from suicide. He even left behind a note for his wife where he stated that he “took the coward(‘s) way out.”