For more than 50 years, the Seattle Center has been a hub of activity. Home of the 1962 World's Fair, the site at the north end of the city has hosted decades of sporting contests, concerts and community events.
It is also the site of a decades-old unsolved homicide.
Seattle Center was where 20-year-old Susan Galvin spent much of her free time in the mid-60s.
According to Seattle Police documents, Galvin, who worked as a police records employee, often walked from her apartment on lower Queen Anne to what was then called the Food Circus at Seattle Center.
Galvin's body was found in a Seattle Center parking garage elevator, strangled and sexually assaulted. The garage and elevator where she was found still stands on Mercer Street.
Homicide detective Rolf Norton told KIRO 7 that physical evidence was collected by the police after Galvin’s murder in July of 1967, then submitted for DNA testing decades later.
According to a search warrant Norton filed in King County Superior Court, semen on Galvin’s underwear was submitted to the Washington State Patrol’s Crime Laboratory for DNA analysis in 2002.
“The profile was searched through CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) with no matches to the individuals in the system,” according to the police document.
CODIS is an international database that collects DNA of felons and other criminals, including misdemeanor sexually motivated crimes.
While reading through the 50-year-old case files at the request of another SPD Homicide Unit employee, Norton learned the prime suspect for 50 years -- a Food Circus worker and friend of Galvin’s -- never submitted a DNA sample.
Immediately after Galvin’s murder, that man quit his job and left town.
Norton said detectives at the time were suspicious, so he “was brought in for questioning, finger-printed, photographed, given a polygraph exam,” but “there wasn’t enough evidence to arrest him. He was released, but there was a big asterisk next to his name.”
A witness told police back in 1967 she saw the same man “and Galvin walking together and holding hands” on July 9, the day investigators believe she was murdered.
Norton filed for the search warrant late in 2016 requesting the legal authority to collect the man’s DNA. The detective then flew out of state where the now 76-year-old former Food Circus employee lives to collect it. Norton flew back to Sea-Tac Airport with the DNA sample in his carry-on luggage and immediately submitted it to the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab for testing.
Within days he had his answer.
“His DNA did not match the DNA collected at the crime scene,” scientifically proving the main suspect for 50 years is “100-percent innocent,” Norton said.
He agreed to be interviewed by KIRO 7 because this case exemplifies how DNA testing can exonerate an innocent suspect. In this case, DNA cleared the name of a man linked in police documents to a murder since 1967.
Norton, a 22-year SPD employee, hoped to close the young woman’s case. Now the search for a new prime suspect begins.
Even though the case is 50-years old, Detective Norton is still hopeful.
“Somewhere, somebody knows something,” he said. “Someone exists who had a conversation with the individual involved. Whether they’re still alive or not, that’s the question.”
Cox Media Group