Family Reacts To Halbower Arrest

RENO, NV - It was a crime that shook the Truckee Meadows to its core.

A beautiful young coed, 19-year-old Michelle Mitchell, found dead just off the UNR campus in February of 1976.

Her hands tied, her throat slit, left in a dirt floor of a garage.
Michelle's best friend at the time, Kathy Milbeck, says Michelle's father called to deliver the horrible news.

“What he said at that point was, that she had been raped and murdered. And mom just repeated it out loud. I think because she couldn't wrap her mind around it. At that point I couldn't wrap my mind around it either.” says Milbeck.

As it would turn out, Michelle was not raped.

Detectives commented that all the young woman's clothes were still on her when they found her. That's one reason investigators believed Cathy Woods when she admitted to killing Michelle three years after the murder.

But advancements in forensic science would eventually exonerate Woods, and point to someone else: a man.

Last fall when we interviewed Michelle's sister, the DNA had yet to be attached to a name.

For Martha this was yet another horrific chapter in a story of 30 years that has yet to end.

“So if this new evidence can come to a resolution for all of us that's what we want,” says Martha.

That resolution, Martha says now, would include a Rodney Halbower conviction here in Washoe County.

Halbower will be tried first in California, and the process mau take a couple years. In the meantime, Woods will have to be exonerated in a Washoe District Court of the Mitchell murder.

The District Attorney here then would have to decide to try Rodney Halbower for the crime.