Conviction in 1987 Nancy Eileen Converse murder

Nancy Eileen Converse

Nancy Eileen Converse

A man who strangled Nancy Eileen Converse to death 23 years ago was sentenced to two decades in prison, after Portland’s Cold Case Unit dug into the case and matched his DNA to the crime scene.

James Samuel Owens (67) plead no contest to first-degree manslaughter in the death of Nancy Eileen Converse (42). She was found dead on Feb. 2, 1987.

Portland police questioned more than 300 neighbors, friends and others – including Owens, who was then a 44-year-old acquaintance of Converse’s – but couldn’t pin Owens to the crime even though they suspected him. The technology to make a DNA match wasn’t in place yet.

In 2006, the bureau’s Cold Case Unit began investigating the case again and submitted DNA found at the crime scene. The state crime lab matched it to Owens, but getting a conviction also required tracking down witnesses – some who’d scattered across the country over they years and some who were reluctant to speak. Investigators believe Owens raped Converse before killing her. However, there is no information in the public domain about that.

Owens has been in prison since 1989 for raping another woman he knew. He was scheduled to be released next year. Read the article here.