Nebraska sex offender charged in 1983 slaying of exchange student

A registered sex offender has been arrested in the 1983 slaying of an Iranian exchange student at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, according to reports.

Bud Leroy Christensen, 67, was charged Thursday with first-degree murder in the death of Firozeh Dehghanpour, whose naked body was found by fishermen beneath a bridge north of Council Bluffs, Iowa, in August 1983, the Omaha World-Herald reported.

An autopsy found Dehghanpour, who was last seen leaving the university’s campus a day before her body was found, died from slashes to her throat and stab wounds to her body, according to the report.

Investigators have said Dehghanpour was killed elsewhere and that evidence showed she was not sexually assaulted, although detectives at the time believed she was targeted by someone she knew, the newspaper reported Wednesday.

The probe into the unsolved slaying was reinvigorated by Dehghanpour’s friend, Steven Martin, who urged Pottawattamie County Sheriff’s Sgt. Jim Doty to take another look at evidence collected from the scene — including a bra and underwear — that could be retested using advanced DNA analysis.

Test results returned in March revealed a left-handed glove with apparent bloodstains on it that contained a male DNA profile, as well as Dehghanpour’s genetic material. Christensen was then identified as a suspect in the slaying after his DNA was entered in a national database called the Combined DNA Index System, the newspaper reported.

Bud Leroy Christensen
Bud Leroy Christensen was charged using advanced DNA testing.
Pottawattamie County Sheriff’s Department

As a convicted sex offender, Christensen’s DNA profile had been in the Nebraska Sex Offender Registry due to three prior convictions, including two as recent as 2014. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison prior to being released in May 2018.

Computer papers found near Dehghanpour’s body also had two of Christensen’s fingerprints on them, according to an affidavit.

“Giving the family answers is the most rewarding part of being able to solve the case,” Doty told the newspaper, saying he spoke to Dehghanpour’s brother in London for an hour Tuesday. “He was shocked. He couldn’t quite process it.”

Christensen would have been 30 years old at the time of the slaying, the World-Herald reported. He was taken into custody in Omaha on April 30 and was ordered held on $1 million cash-only bond ahead of his next scheduled court appearance next week.

Christensen waived his right to fight extradition to Iowa on Tuesday, the newspaper reported.

A crime scene technician, meanwhile, said the case exemplifies the advancements in forensic science since Dehghanpour’s death, according to KETV.

“Let Firozeh’s case be an example that it is never too late to seek answers,” Pottawattamie County Sheriff’s Crime Scene Technician Hadley Mikovec said.

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