Widow: Mistakes mean killer will never be punished

Widow: Mistakes mean killer will never be punished »Play Video
Gary Krueger
SEATTLE -- There's a break in a high-profile murder that went unsolved for a decade, but the killer may never be punished due to several mistakes.

Ten years ago, real estate agent Mike Emert was stabbed inside a Woodinville home.

Someone stabbed Emert at a Woodinville home a decade ago. DNA traces were found under Emert's fingernails and from a blood drop in his SUV, but the clues went cold until last summer.

That's when the FBI matched the DNA to Gary Krueger, a former Seattle police officer-turned criminal. But by then, Krueger had already died. He drowned in Lake Washington a few months before investigators got a rock-solid DNA match that ties him to Emert's murder scene.

"Opportunities missed, come and gone, all through the years, where this guy could have been identified, brought in, held accountable," said the victim's wife, Mary Beth Emert, adding investigators could have made this link six years earlier. "When Krueger went to federal prison for robbing the same bank not only once but twice, why wasn't his DNA taken then?"

Court documents show Krueger agreed to submit DNA to be paroled in 2004. But federal probation officers waited three years to collect a sample. A spokeswoman says the agency was following a prioritization schedule, and Krueger ranked low on that list.

His sample then went to the FBI office in Vrginia, and sat around for several more years, which agents also blame on a backlog.

"I understand a backlog. I don't understand a 3½-year backlog," said Mary Beth Emert.

Emert's widow says the foot-dragging spared Krueger from more prison time, though so far, sheriff's investigators will only call Krueger a person of interest in Emert's unsolved murder.

"We know who killed Mike. So let's let the community, our respective families, friends, and everybody who cared have some closure," she said.

The sheriff's office and the FBI won't comment on specifics in this case. But there has been a federal policy change. DNA is now collected from every inmate when they first enter the prison.