On April 11, 2023, the Carlsbad Police Department announced that they had identified Michael Ruff Wigley as the lead suspect in the July 8, 1987 rape and murder of Donna Sue Hyatt in Carlsbad, New Mexico. The case has been cleared by exception due to the death of Wigley.
Hyatt had been sexually assaulted, stabbed, and strangled by an unknown intruder to her home. Her body was discovered by her daughter. A DNA profile of a male suspect was developed when the car was reopened in 2023.
The FGG investigation was conducted by Othram, in partnership with the Carlsbad Police Department. The final confirmation was made when Wigley’s remains were exhumed in Amarillo, Texas, and a forensic DNA profile was developed from his remains. Police state that he lived in Carlsbad at the time of Hyatt’s murder. Much of the funding for this investigation was provided by the City of Carlsbad.
Wigley was indicted in October of 1980 in Gatesville, Texas for the rape and murder of Sandra Beilman, and the rape of a second woman in Killeen, Texas. He is described in the news reports as a 19-year-old soldier at Fort Hood. Recent reports state that he went to prison for one of those crimes, and that he had already been released when Hyatt was murdered in 1987. For this reason, it seems likely that he was convicted of the sexual assault, but there is as yet no confirmation of this. Police have not yet stated if they will continue to investigate the murder of Sandra Bielman, in the event that there was no conviction for her murder.
Wigley died in a traffic accident a few years after Hyatt’s murder, in 1989.
City of Carlsbad. “Carlsbad Cold Case from Solved.” City of Carlsbad (Press Release), April 11, 2023. Accessed April 12, 2023. https://cityofcarlsbadnm.com/2023/04/11/carlsbad-cold-case-from-1987-solved/.
Gatesville Messenger and Star-Forum. “38 Indicted by Grand Jury.” Gatesville Messenger and Star-Forum, October 9, 1980. Accessed April 11, 2023. https://www.newspapers.com/image/79153745/?clipping_id=36215990&fcfToken=eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJmcmVlLXZpZXctaWQiOjc5MTUzNzQ1LCJpYXQiOjE2ODEyNzYxNzMsImV4cCI6MTY4MTM2MjU3M30.8Tf-rnAXPi6hElkon_5jlsZuL8m7ajS1eqbifhq1jHY.
Onsurez, Jessica. “Carlsbad Murder Solved After 36 Years. Here’s What We Know.” Carlsbad Current-Argus, April 11, 2023. Accessed April 11, 2023. https://www.currentargus.com/story/news/crime/2023/04/11/carlsbad-murder-solved-cold-case-donna-sue-hyatt-michael-wigley/70105613007/.
Vogen, Michael. “Carlsbad Police Department and the FBI Teams with Othram to Identify the Suspect in the 1987 Rape and Murder of Donna Sue Hyatt.” DNASolves.com, April 11, 2023. Accessed April 11, 2023. https://dnasolves.com/articles/carlsbad-murder-donna-sue-hyatt/.