Bellevue Cold Case: Halgren Pleads Not Guilty in 1980 Murder

Michael Allan Halgren, accused in the 1980 murder of Susan Lowe, pleaded not guilty during his Wednesday arraignment. Halgren was arrested at McNeil Island, more than 30 years after the Lowe case had gone cold.

, pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder during a Wednesday morning arraignment in King County Superior Court.

Halgren was arrested at McNeil Island earlier this month in connection with the Lowe case, which had been cold and without leads for more than 30 years.

Lowe was strangled in her apartment near Bellevue College the night of April 23, 1980, according to charging documents filed by the Bellevue Police Department. Her roommate discovered Lowe the next morning in their apartment at 2501 148th Ave SE, then known as the Quorum Apartments, now known as the Carrington Apartments. Investigators say that evidence shows that Lowe also was raped.

Halgren, a resident of McNeil Island's Special Commitment Center, was identified last year via DNA obtained from sperm found at the scene in 1980, according to police. Halgren, 56, is being held without bail in King County jail.

If convicted as charged, he faces life in prison, according to the King County Prosecuting Attorney's office.

Halgren, who was 23-years-old in 1980, grew up at his parents' home on 151st Avenue SE in Bellevue, three blocks away from Lowe's apartment, according to Bellevue Police Det. Jerry Johnson's statement in court documents.

Halgren had not been identified as a suspect until the DNA match made last year, said Bellevue Police Department spokeswoman Officer Carla Iafrate earlier this month.

According to Johnson's statement, the DNA evidence in the Lowe case was filed into the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab database in 2001. It hit a match with Halgren in 2012, when the database was updated to include civilly committed sexually violent predators at the McNeil Island Special Commitment Center.

Lowe was last seen alive around 7 p.m. April 23, 1980, when she told her roommate that she planned to stay in and watch the Seattle Supersonics game on television, according to the court documents. Around 10 p.m. that night -- while "Charlie's Angels" was on TV -- Lowe's neighbors heard a knock at Lowe's door, then a banging noise as if something hit a wall, running sounds and a muffled scream, but did not act on what they heard, documents said. 

Lowe's roommate discovered her the next morning, positioned and covered in her bed, in what investigators said was an attempt to make her look like she was asleep, according to documents.

Halgren had been civilly committed at McNeil Island after a history of past sexual related convictions. Halgren’s criminal history included a conviction in the 1989 kidnapping and rape of a woman in Bellevue, and other sexual related crimes in Seattle.

Bellevue detectives interviewed Halgren in connection with the case last year. According to Johnson's statement in court papers, Halgren told detectives that in 1980 he worked at the Boeing plant in Bellevue on Kamber Road, and that after work he would either go home to Fall City, go to his fiance's apartment in Bellevue or buy marijuana from a dealer who lived across the street from the Quorum Apartments.

According to court papers, Halgren said he didn't know Lowe and disputed the validity of the DNA match.

Lowe's roommate, who was re-interviewed, said she never heard Halgren's name nor did she recognize his photo.

Bellevue detectives arrested Halgren on Jan. 9 at McNeil Island, and he was transferred to King County Jail on a no-bail bond.

The case went cold in the 1980s after all investigative leads were exhausted, but Bellevue detectives investigated the case on and off for the next three decades, Iafrate said. 


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