Cold case three decades in the making, finally cracked open

Liz Kotalik

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Cold case three decades in the making, finally cracked open

CREATED May. 6, 2013

Reporter: Liz Kotalik 

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) -  After over three decades on the run, Tucson police say they've finally arrested an accused killer, cracking a freezing cold case wide open.

In March 1976, when Tucson police found 20-year-old Donna Smith brutally murdered in her home, it did not take long for them to believe it was her then 28-year-old live-in boyfriend, Bruce McCullough.

They didn't have any  luck finding him, and cold case detectives years later had no luck either.


It was not until recently that McCullough got back onto police radar.

Now 66-years-old with deteriorating health, Tucson Police Capt. Michael Gillooly says McCullough ditched his fake identity and had to use his real name in order to get health benefits.

"Because of that and utilizing some databases that we have and some technological instruments that we have here, we were able to successfully locate him."

Tucson detectives found him living by himself in San Diego on May 2nd. 

After talking with McCullough about the murder, police say they are confident they have their guy.

"[Detectives] located the victim's mother who is still alive, and who's eighty-four years old," Gillooly says, "and they had the pleasure of knocking on her door, and telling her that the Tucson Police Department finally solved this crime, and brought her daughter's killer to justice."

McCullough is still in a San Diego jail awaiting extradition to Tucson.

He will be charged with one count of first degree murder.

The Tucson Police Department has a cold case unit manned by two detectives.

Police say they have over 300 cases still waiting to be solved.