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Man Pleads Not Guilty in 1989 Killings of His In-Laws

RUTLAND, Vt. (AP) — A New York man charged with the 1989 stabbing deaths of his in-laws in the Vermont town of Danby after modern DNA techniques linked him to the crime pleaded not guilty Friday during a court hearing.

The arraignment of Michael Louise in Vermont Superior Court in Rutland came two days after he was returned to Vermont from New York to answer charges in the deaths of George Peacock, 76, and Catherine Peacock, 73. He had been scheduled for arraignment Thursday but the hearing was delayed 24 hours.

Louise entered the pleas and then was ordered held without bail, said Vermont State Police spokesperson Adam Silverman, who monitored the hearing remotely.

Louise, 79, who was married to one of the Peacocks’ daughters, was identified as a suspect about two weeks later after the couple was found dead in their Danby home in September 1989. Investigators at the time developed circumstantial evidence tying Louise to the killings , but there was not enough to charge him, police said in an affidavit filed in the case.

Louise told conflicting stories about whether he had traveled to Vermont from his home in Liverpool, New York, on Sept. 13, 1989, the day the Peacocks were believed to have been killed. Their bodies were discovered Sept. 17 after neighbors went to check on the couple.

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When Louise’s car was searched by the New York State Police on Oct. 6, 1989, investigators discovered what was described as a small blood deposit, later determined to be human, on the driver’s side floor mat. At the time, the blood deposit was not large enough so it could be typed.

The blood was subjected to DNA testing in 2000 by the Vermont forensic lab, but the test that was conducted at the time was not as sensitive as current testing. It was retested in October 2020 and a portion of it matched a sample taken from George Peacock.

Police have not publicly suggested a motive for the killings.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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