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DNA from tequila bottle helped lead to arrest in Las Vegas cold case

Updated March 31, 2020 - 2:08 pm

A DNA swab from a bottle of tequila was the last piece of evidence needed for Las Vegas police this month to arrest Quincy Cook as a suspect in the 2008 killing of a 74-year-old man.

According to his arrest report, Cook, now 44, had been interviewed by police less than three months after Richard Cline, of Las Vegas, was found dead in his ransacked home on Dec. 19, 2008. A fingerprint taken from a mostly empty bottle of olive oil had been identified as Cook’s, but it wasn’t enough to arrest him.

But in November 2019, test results came back from a DNA swab taken from the exterior and mouth of a Jose Cuervo tequila bottle, the report said. Despite Cook previously denying being in Cline’s home, he was identified through the DNA and booked into the Clark County Detention Center on March 24, more than 12 years after the killing.

On Dec. 19, 2008, Metropolitan Police Department officers were notified of Cline’s death after a neighbor noticed the 74-year-old’s door was open about 10:30 p.m. When the neighbor went to investigate, he saw Cline’s body lying on the floor of the living room, his face covered with a bloody towel and blood on his chest, according to Cook’s arrest report.

Cline had died from neck compression, with other significant conditions being multiple blunt force injuries, the coroner’s office has said. During an autopsy, examiners found multiple bruises and cuts showing Cline “had been involved in a violent struggle,” the report said.

When detectives arrived at the home on Dec. 19, they found several plastic bags stuffed with frozen meals stacked in and around a wheelbarrow outside the home.

“These items appeared to have been removed from the interior of the residence, as if someone were planning to wheel the items away,” the report said.

Man had fed homeless

Neighbors told police that Cline was known to have homeless people over at his home “and would feed them, as well as consume alcoholic beverages with them,” the report said. Cline also received meal deliveries from Catholic Charities.

Inside the home, investigators found a ransacked living room and kitchen. A table was overturned, items littered the floor, and someone appeared to have dumped “transmission fluid, several types of alcohol, dish soap, household cleaning agents and various cooking oils” over the floor, the report said.

“The fluid appeared to have been dumped all over the crime scene to destroy any forensic evidence that may have been present,” the report said.

Investigators identified Cook from a fingerprint on a bottle of olive oil, which appeared to be one of the liquids poured over the scene. The fingerprint resulted in an interview with detectives in February 2009, during which Cook said he had never been to the mobile home park where Cline lived.

“Cook was specifically asked if he knew (Cline) and Cook said ‘no,’ ” the report said. “Detectives next checked Cook for any injuries and noted he had no visible injuries.”

In March 2009, detectives submitted DNA for testing that had been taken from the home’s doorknob and the bottle of tequila. Through a search warrant, detectives obtained a DNA sample from Cook, although he again told investigations “his ‘story won’t change’ ” regarding Cline’s death, the report said.

The officer who authored the arrest report wrote that “there is no plausible explanation as to how both Cook’s DNA and latent prints were in the crime scene, other than the fact that Quincy Cook gained entry to (Cline’s) residence and strangled and beat (Cline) to death,” the report said.

Previous arrests

After the DNA results came back, Cook was charged with burglary and murder on March 17. Metro has said he was rebooked into the jail while he was already in custody on unrelated charges.

Las Vegas Justice Court records show that Cook had a case involving a trespassing misdemeanor charge that was active in early March. He was arrested March 4 on a bench warrant, the same day the arrest warrant in the murder case was requested.

Cook’s arrest history in Clark County dates back to 2009, mostly involving drug and trespassing charges, court records show. In 2009, he pleaded guilty to a felony charge of receiving or transferring stolen vehicles, and in November 2015 he pleaded guilty to felony attempted battery resulting in substantial bodily harm, District Court records show.

He remained in jail on Tuesday without bail, according to jail records.

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.

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