Police in Bellevue, Washington have solved a 51-year-old cold case homicide from 1965. Not only was this the oldest cold case murder in the history of the Bellevue Police Department, it was also the department’s very first homicide case. Furthermore, this case was solved with old-school investigative techniques, and not with DNA evidence and testing.
On December 4th, 1965, the body of 23-year-old Loren Sundholm was discovered in some bushes off of a back country road on the outskirts of Bellevue after he had been reported as a missing person to the Bellevue Police Department. Sundholm was stabbed to death and his body had been dumped in a bunch of blackberry bushes by the side of the road.
During the investigation into Sundholm’s murder, police determined that their primary suspect in the homicide was a man by the name of Bill Huff.
At the time, Huff gave police a very questionable alibi. Huff told police investigators that he had been out drinking with Sundholm in Seattle, WA and gave Sundholm a ride home. On the way back to Bellevue, Huff said that they had been involved in a road rage incident and fist fight with two other men. He claimed that Sundholm disappeared after the incident. Sundholm’s body was found in the area where Huff said the fight occurred.
Although Huff’s alibi was questionable at best, police were never able to get enough solid evidence to formally charge him with murdering Sundholm.
The Bellevue police looked into the case again in the 1980s and 1990s, but they were never able to charge Huff and close the case.
Although Bill Huff died in 2009, Bellevue police detective Shelby Shearer decided in 2014 that he was going to go back and investigate the Sundholm cold case.
There was no physical evidence to review, so Detective Shearer reviewed all of the information in the old case file and interviewed people who had been involved in the investigation, including several of Huff’s former wives. According to detective Shearer, Huff’s ex-wives described him as a very violent person. They also said that they were afraid to talk to police while Huff was still living.
Detective Shearer used the original crime scene photos to find holes in Huff’s old alibi. Using the crime scene photos and information from Sundholm’s file, Detective Shearer was able to come up with some new insights into what happened the night Sundholm was murdered.
When Sundholm was found by police he was wearing only a pair of clean socks. Detective Shearer concluded that if Sundholm had been in a fight before his murder, his socks would have been dirty and muddy, since the place where his body was found was wet and muddy at the time of the incident.
Original autopsy reports showed that Sundholm had sustained cuts and scratches on his eyes from the thorny blackberry bushes he was found in. The King County Medical examiner told Detective Shearer that these injuries could only have happened if Sundholm was already dead when his body was put in the bushes.
The detective also found a crime scene photo that showed a pair of shoes in the back of Huff’s car. Detective Shearer deduced that this pair of shoes likely belonged to the victim and that the murder more than likely occurred in the suspect’s car.
Armed with this new evidence and insight into Sundholm’s cold case, detective Shearer was able to present it to the King County Prosecutor, who then determined that Huff could have been tried for murder if he was still alive.
Although Bill Huff will never be tried for the murder of Loren Sundholm, the investigation work of detective Shearer was able to give the victim’s family answers and close Bellevue’s first and oldest unsolved homicide after 51 years.
The victim’s now 75-year-old brother, Lee Sundholm, said that he will always be grateful to the the police detectives for not giving up on his brother’s case.