Retired Detective Dean Chrestenson Reflects on McGuinness Case
One man mentioned by name at the press conference on Monday that revealed the killer of five year-old Siobhan McGuinness in 1974 was now retired Missoula Police Detective Dean Chrestenson.
Chrestenson was given responsibility to continue the investigation into the five year-old’s death in 2008.
“We talked with dozens of people about their relationship with Siobhan and her family and the neighborhood and what was going on in 1974,” said Chrestenson. “There was there was a lot of work that was done and we had DNA at the time as well and we had submitted a partial sample of what we had, because you know, some common names in our area had come up during the initial investigations and several years afterwards, and those people were ruled out as suspects through DNA.”
Chrestenson said the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office’s Cold Case Unit eventually took over the investigation and had great success.
“They did an outstanding job of really taking the case personally and delving into it page by page until they were able to submit some new DNA evidence that was collected back in 1974 by the original investigators from both the city and the county,” he said. “That turned out to be fruitful and they were able to develop a suspect, as you know for the press conference today and able to then solve and close this case.”
Chrestenson was asked if he was disappointed that the suspect was never brought to justice for the murder of Siobhan McGuinness.
“I think that he probably was punished in his own way through his own life,” he said. “I think that living with what he did for all those years has got to be difficult, and it sounds like it was difficult for this person. You've heard the phrase ‘hell on earth’, and I think he lived it all here on earth and whatever happened it would not have brought Siobhan back regardless. I just want the best for her mom and her father and her family and hopefully they'll be able to get through this too because again, this opens up all their wounds as well.”
Chrestenson said one of the most poignant outcomes of the case is a new rooftop garden at the Zootown Arts Community Center that will be named in memory of Siobhan McGuinness. Donations for the garden can be sent here.