Who Is Paula Zahn? How Was Lee Rotatoris’s Murder Case Solved After 40 Years?

The Investigation Discovery episode of “On the Case with Paula Zahn: Room 106” aids viewers in understanding the confusing series of events that took place in Council Bluffs, Iowa, in June 1982 when a meals service supervisor by the name of Lee Rotatori was discovered stabbed. In the end, the police were able to identify the murderer, but the investigation was complicated by unforeseen developments. You can rely on us to provide information if you’re interested in learning more about the incident and the perpetrator of the crime. Without further ado, how about we get this show going as quickly as we can?

Who Is Paula Zahn?

One of the incredibly gifted American journalists and newscasters is Paula Ann Zahn. Paula Zahn has appeared on a number of news networks, including CNN, ABC News, CBS News, and Fox News. Presently, Paul Zahn hosts and produces the true crime documentary series On the Case with Paula Zahn using her extensive experience as a journalist and newscaster. The Investigation Discovery channel airs this program.

Paula Zahn, 66, possesses the necessary talent to captivate audiences with her program. While she and fellow CNN anchor Aaron Brown were working there, Paula Zahn mysteriously rose to fame. They both reported on the terrorist attacks that day (September 11, 2001), and Paula Zahn vehemently expressed her reaction and desperation after seeing those mind-boggling events.
Now that Paula Zahn is hosting these criminal cases, her channel will also be airing the Lee Rotatori murder case from 1982.

Who Was Lee Rotatori?

Lee Rotatori was a beautiful woman from Michigan in the United States. At the time, Lee Rotatori moved to a new location for work because she was employed at the Jennie Edmundson Hospital close to Council Bluffs. Lee Rotatori stayed at the Best Western Frontier Motor Lodge hotel because her job required it.

She had to deal with a number of obstacles because she was a total stranger to this location. A brutal murder of a stunning and stylish girl who had moved to a new city in search of a new job and a peaceful life took place, and after a long 4 decades with the aid of scientific technology, the perpetrator was brought before the law.

How did Lee Rotatori die?

When Lee Goncalos Rotatori was born on September 29, 1949, in Fargo, Cass County, North Dakota, her parents were Clifford W. Goncalos and Gwendolyn R. Sennar Goncalos. She grew up in Rochester’s suburbs as the eldest of the four daughters raised by the Gonsalos family.

Lee obtained his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nutritional nutrition at the University of Wisconsin. The field of food services is covered by both degrees. She had a son from her first marriage, and for professional reasons, she chose to retain the title from this union. Her son and his father resided in Chicago.

The ceremony for Lee’s second marriage to Gerald Stanley “Jerry” Nimke took place in Madison, Wisconsin in August of 1978. They eventually made the decision to end their marriage and file for divorce after another year of marriage. In 1980, I began employment with Service-Master Inc., a Chicago-based organization that supplied hospital-based food service managers. She was transferred to Jenny Edmondson Hospital in Council Bluffs in June 1982. The Best Western Frontier Motor Lodge served as Lee’s temporary residence during the first week of her internship.

What happened with Lee Rotatore?

On the afternoon of June 24, 1982, Lee went out on Lake Manawa in a boat with some new friends she had made at her new job. They didn’t know it at the time, but this would be the last time they would ever see me alive. When Lee failed to arrive for her first day of official work the following day, Lee’s superiors became worried and contacted the hotel to inquire about her whereabouts. Lee had been murdered, which was what hotel staff discovered when they went to check on her in her room.

Lee’s body was discovered on the bed, face down in a pool of blood, wearing pyjamas. The police were unable to find any evidence of a dispute or an unauthorized entry into the building. Her single chest stab wound was the cause of death, according to the results of her autopsy, and it is thought that she passed away about twelve hours before her body was found.

She was a victim of sexual assault, which was also mentioned in the report. He mentioned that her watch, wallet, and ring were all missing, but it was unclear if the theft was to blame.

Lee Rotatori’s Murder Was Finally Solved Using DNA Technology

Authorities declared in February 2022 that they had successfully solved Rotatori’s murder using evidence gathered from the scene in 1982. Authorities turned over evidence gathered at the murder scene of Lee Rotatori to a state crime lab for additional examination in 2001.

According to The Daily Beast, the lab used the evidence to create a DNA profile and came to the conclusion that it belonged to a male. Unfortunately, none of the profiles listed in the local or national databases matched the DNA.

Between 2001 and 2018, the profile was repeatedly submitted to the databases, but no matches were discovered. However, Police Captain Todd Weddum thought about comparing the profile with genetic genealogy databases in 2018. The suspect’s DNA was eventually provided to the Virginia-based company Parabon Nanolabs, according to The Daily Beast, which compared the DNA with profiles provided to a number of genealogy websites.

Who Killed Lee Rotatori?

Jerry was initially considered a suspect in the investigation because of his extensive legal background. Jerry was tried and found guilty of the charges that he killed Marilyn Duncan, a waitress who was 16 years old, by beating her to death in April of 1960, after serving time at the Marseilles Youth Camp for the theft of a vehicle.

When Jerry was only 17 years old in May 1960, he confessed to the police while being held for stealing another vehicle. He was later given the death penalty for the crime. However, less than two years later, the decision was overturned, and he was found guilty in a second trial. This time, he was sentenced to between 75 and 100 years in prison.

Despite the fact that Jerry was free by the time he met Lee, due to his history of violent behavior, the police conducted a thorough investigation into him. He had a strong alibi, however, and was not considered a suspect in the case despite the fact that he was in Michigan at the time of the murder. The police believed that the assassin might be anywhere from “5 feet away to a thousand miles away” due to the motel’s close proximity to the intersection of Interstate 29-80 and South 24th Avenue.

The police discovered some forensic evidence at the crime scene, but because advanced forensic knowledge was not yet available, they were unable to use it to identify or apprehend the murderer. Edmundson Hospital, Service-Grasp Inc., and Kinseth Enterprises Inc., the owners of the motel where Lee was found murdered, have established a reward fund in the amount of approximately $3,000 in the hopes of obtaining any reliable information on Lee’s killer. However, no new leads have materialized, and the investigation fizzled out leading to the forfeiture of the reward.

The evidence that was collected from the scene of the crime in 1982 and resubmitted to the State of Iowa Division of Prison Investigation (DCI) Lab in 2001 shows how forensic science has advanced during the time that has passed. Despite the discovery of a male’s DNA profile, neither the state-run nor the federal DNA databases had a match for it. The databases were routinely checked by the DCI lab, but no useful information was found. In the year 2019, the DNA profile was sent to Parabon Nanolabs, a Virginia-based company that offered DNA phenotyping services to governmental organizations.

When Parabon Nanolabs used the technique of determining familial relationships from the genetic data to determine that the DNA belonged to Thomas O. Freeman, the case was finally solved in 2021. Together with Eric Schubert, a scholar at the time who was 18 years older, this discovery was made. Currently, the renowned national genealogist Eric Schubert is a Pennsylvanian. The police thought they had finally solved the case after nearly 40 years of searching when they discovered a match between Thomas’ daughter’s DNA and that of the suspect.

Thomas O. Freeman Was Identified As Lee Rotatori’s Killer In 2022

According to The Daily Beast, a college student named Eric Schubert, who specializes in genealogical DNA, heard about the case and offered to assist in locating the suspect’s family members using the current databases. Schubert was able to identify the suspect’s great-grandparent despite not finding an exact match.

The great-known grandparent’s descendants were contacted by authorities, and they gave their consent for DNA testing. Authorities were able to select two brothers from the suspect list thanks to the findings of those tests. Further investigation led them to the conclusion that Thomas O. Freeman, the older of the two brothers, was most likely the murderer. Using a DNA sample provided by Freeman’s daughter, they were able to confirm their suspicions.

Authorities reported that Thomas O. Freeman, a truck driver in 1982, killed Lee Rotatori in February 2022. The Daily Beast reports that investigators think Freeman killed the victim while passing through Council Bluffs. Despite the fact that Rotatori’s killer was finally found, he will never be brought to justice for her slaying because Freeman was also murdered shortly after he killed Rotatori.

Lee Rotatori’s Killer Thomas O. Freeman was found buried in a shallow grave

In February 2022, this information was made public. According to the authorities, Lee Rotatori was killed by Thomas O. Freeman, a truck driver who worked in 1982. Investigators believe that Freeman murdered her while passing through Council Bluffs.

Despite the fact that Freeman, who killed Rotatori, was later found, he will never be prosecuted for the crime because the killer passed away soon after the hotel incident.

On October 30, 1982, a shallow grave outside of Cobden, Illinois, in a wooded area, was where Thomas O. Freeman’s body was found. The man was shot to death, according to the authorities, and his body was buried for about three months before his remains were found.

Nobody ever discovered who Freeman’s killer was or whether their crime was related to Rotatori’s. Authorities do think that connecting him to the murder of Lee Rotatori may help them solve both cases.

According to reports, police captain Todd Weddum commented on the circumstance and said he “is not a real big believer in coincidences.” Authorities also think Rotatori’s husband, Jerry Nemke, who has a violent past related to a homicide case and has previously served time in prison, may have been involved in the case. Early on in the investigation into his wife’s murder, Nemke was under scrutiny.