Investigators in Utah have identified a suspect and are seeking a second in the brutal unsolved murder an Army veteran and raping a woman who was with him when he was killed over Thanksgiving weekend in 1972.
Daniel Arthur Bell was identified as one of two men through DNA testing suspected of killing 21-year-old Gregory Dahl Nickell nearly 50 years ago while on a date at a scenic overlook west of Vernal, the Uintah County Sheriff’s Office said.
After killing Nickell, Bell and the unidentified man killed Nickell, kidnapped his date, and raped her, investigators said.
Bell died in 2019. Investigators believe the release of his name will help determine the identity of the second suspect, who is believed to be younger than Bell, the sheriff’s office said.
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“This case remains open and active,” Uintah County Sheriff Steve Labrum said. “Our investigators continue to develop and pursue leads in the pursuit of justice for all affected by this heinous crime.”
Nickell had just returned to Vernal after being honorably discharged from the army when he took an 18-year-old woman out on a date at the scenic overlook. According to authorities, a man knocked on Nickell’s car window around 1 a.m. The man said there had been a car accident and asked Nickell for help.
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Nickell agreed and as he turned away from the window, the man shot him at least three times with a .22 caliber handgun, officials say. It was reported that the man then pushed Nickell’s body onto the 18-year-old woman, threatened her and drove her to a remote area while his accomplice followed in a second car.
When they arrived, the men used gas from Nickell’s car to set it ablaze while the veteran’s body was still inside, authorities say. The men then allegedly abducted the woman in the second vehicle, then drove 60 miles each raped her once before leaving her at the side of the road.
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While the victim was never able to give authorities a good description of the suspects, forensic evidence von the woman was eventually able to help investigators track down a suspect.
“It’s a tragedy that it took 50 years to identify a suspect,” Labrum said. “I hope that with the public’s help, we can identify the other suspect much, much sooner.”
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