05/02/2013 05:43 EDT | Updated 07/02/2013 05:12 EDT

Saskatoon Police Believe They've Solved 1963 Homicide

A shadowy figure walks through a rain soaked parking lot under a street light at night.
File/Getty Images
A shadowy figure walks through a rain soaked parking lot under a street light at night.
Saskatoon police believe they've solved a homicide case that remained a mystery for almost 50 years.

With the help of modern technology and evidence testing, major crime detectives say they think they now know who was responsible for the 1963 homicide of Richard Hartz, 53.

"It's nice to hear that they had a suspect all along, because that wasn't public knowledge at the time," said Ernie Hartz, the dead man's cousin. "This is good news, we are really happy with the police work that's been done and we're happy that the police didn't give up."

The suspect's name will not be released because the man died in 2009. However, police said they believe a 17-year-old Saskatoon teen, who was a leading suspect in 1963, was responsible.

Hartz was found shot to death at the Saskatoon Golf and Country Club on the morning of Oct. 17, 1963. The bullet that killed him came from a .22-calibre firearm.

The clubhouse had been forcibly entered overnight and a cash box containing $41 was stolen. Hartz was a live-in caretaker at the golf course and police believe he may have surprised the person or persons involved in the break-in.

Evidence found at the scene included discarded matches and a match book was located in a stolen vehicle. Those items would prove important many years later.

During the investigation, police examined more than 20 firearms and involved law enforcement agencies across the country. DNA was collected and tested, but indicated negative or inconclusive results.

Although police had a key suspect at the time, they were unable to tie him to the crime.

Advanced scientific testing was conducted recently and it was found that the discarded matchsticks belonged to that suspect.

Police who helped pin down a suspect in the historical case with modern science are taking little credit.

"This was work done back in 1963, so the good work was done by police officers back then," said Sgt. Grant Little.

Little said police do not give up on cold cases, and that they continue to use advancements in science and technology to try to solve crimes.

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