ISU student hopes new DNA technology brings closure to 1975 murder of Carol Rofstad

Who Killed Carol Rofstad?

That’s one of many unanswered questions surrounding the 1975 death of the Illinois State University student — and it’s also the name of a new Facebook group that a current ISU senior is leveraging to revive interest in the nearly 50-year-old cold case.

Nicole Roach is a senior psychology major, who plans to pursue a master’s degree in forensic genetic genealogy — which also happens to be the thing Roach thinks could be a linchpin in solving Rofstad’s murder case.

“I transferred to ISU in my sophomore year in 2019 and as I was researching ISU… I came across Carol’s case on the Illinois State Police website,” Roach said. “I saw this and was like, ‘I’ve never heard of this before.’ I had friends that went to ISU, my parents went — how have I not heard of this?'”

Roach said she continued to dig for more information, subscribing to Newspapers.com to find media coverage of the case, then requesting the case files from the Normal Police Department via a Freedom of Information Act request.

“A lot of suspects were just given a polygraph, and if they passed it, they were just let off,” she said. “So when I was looking at this, I thought, ‘Well, there’s got to be some way that this can be solved.”

Roach said she wants to see updated DNA testing done on a potential murder weapon found near Carol Rofstad’s body. Rofstad, last seen walking home on Dec. 22, 1975 from what is now The Garlic Press to her sorority house on South Fell, was found around noon on Dec. 23. Reports said Rofstad was unconscious and had been badly beaten; nearby was an 18-inch railroad tie that was covered in blood. Rofstad died a day later, on Christmas Eve.

The railroad tie is what Roach would like, potentially, to see retested for evidence.

The case files, she said, show that “in the early 2000’s, Normal Police sent in evidence — I’m not quite sure what — to the FBI for analysis.”

“The results of those tests have never been released publicly, and they’re not in the case files,” she added. “It’s been two decades since the testing; the technology for extraction of DNA, for degraded DNA — all of this stuff has blossomed within even the past five years and the technology is so much better than it used to be.”

A spokesperson for the Normal Police Department said the agency does not typically disclose information in an ongoing or open case and would not comment about developments, if any, in the Rofstad case.

In the meantime, while she waits for responses, answers — anything from authorities — Roach manages the Who Killed Carol Rofstad Facebook page, where she attempts to share what she’s learned with others.

“There’s not a lot of actual information out there — a lot of the information that I got was from newspaper articles that I had to buy a subscription to (or FOIA request), so it’s not easily accessible,” she said. “I really wanted to get the story together, get the information that wasn’t online and give it to people in its entirety and say, ‘These are the facts. What can we do to help?'”

There is, these days, a fine line between helping and hurting in the true crime community; Roach said she’s walking that line by keeping Carol Rofstad as the focus, as opposed to fixating on the potential suspects and their stories.

Roach said Rofstad’s sister, Laura Kuhn, has given her approval to the effort, in part so that Carol’s memory stays alive and justice, perhaps, may be found with new eyes on the facts of the case.

“Our family continues to be devastated over Carol’s loss,” Kuhn said in a statement. “Our parents have died without receiving any closure. The person(s) responsible are probably still alive and out there somewhere without paying for the murder of a fellow ISU student who was a wonderful daughter, sister and a friend of many. We are still looking for any information that might possibly be of help regarding this crime.”

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