HIBBING, Minn. — A lot of people have asked Gina Haggard if she feels a sense of closure now that Michael Allen Carbo Jr., has been convicted of murdering her mother, Nancy Daugherty — a finale she spent decades chasing.
"Partially," she told the court on Friday afternoon in a packed St. Louis County courtroom. "At least I know who, but I'll never know why."
Carbo, 54, received a life sentence during the hearing, but he can petition for parole after 17 years based on sentencing guidelines from 1986 when Daugherty was murdered. He has already served more than two years in St. Louis County Jail. Defense attorney JD Schmid, who has filed a motion for a new trial, argued the court made a mistake in not allowing Carbo to pursue an alternate perpetrator defense.
Judge Robert Friday supported the jury's ruling.
Daugherty has been dead for more years than she spent as her mother, Haggard said in her victim impact statement. She listed the milestones they hadn't shared: weddings, births, drinks around bonfires. She remembered her mother putting out bubbly water and a can of tuna for her on prom night — a substitute for champagne and caviar.
The years have also brought fear for Haggard, who had just graduated from high school and moved to suburban Minneapolis when she got the news of her mother's murder.
"If someone rapes and kills your mother, it makes it something that can happen to you," she said. "I've had to look at everyone with distrust for self-preservation."
Carbo was found guilty on two counts of first-degree murder in mid-August, 36 years after Nancy Daugherty, 38, was discovered dead in her Chisholm home. The mother of two had gone out with a friend the previous night, then didn't respond to knocks or phone calls when he returned the next morning to help her move some of her belongings into storage.
There were signs of a struggle in her yard — along with her discarded house keys and vomit that was later linked to Carbo. She was found in her bed naked, a victim of manual strangulation and sexual assault.
The search for the killer spanned decades and more than 100 suspects were considered — a list that never included Carbo.
Haggard read a statement from her brother Jason Larsen, who said he would forever celebrate his own freedom knowing that Carbo was incarcerated.
"I will not waste any more time on him," Larsen said in his statement.
In 2020, Chisholm Police Chief Vern Manner contacted a company that has successfully used public genealogy databases to find familial matches. Investigators were able to link Carbo to DNA samples found at the crime scene and in Daugherty's body. His was the only DNA, besides Daugherty's, found at the scene.
Carbo was going into his senior year at Chisholm High School at the time of the murder — around the same time that his family moved in next door to then-Police Chief Bob Silvestri. He was arrested in 2020 and spent two years in the St. Louis County jail leading up to the trial, despite letters of support from at least two dozen friends and family members who asked for lenient bail and insisted he wasn't a threat to the community.
Carbo's defense has been that he had sex with Daugherty on the night of her death but didn't kill her.
Carbo spoke in court for the first time during the hearing. He maintained his innocence in a prepared statement.
"To the kids and family of Nancy Daugherty, I did not kill Nancy," he said. "I obviously had sex with her, and I don't remember."
There was little response to the sentencing within the courtroom. Family members and media filed out before Carbo and his lawyers. Gina and Dave Haggard have spent decades advocating for Nancy Daugherty, but they are still unsettled.
"The part that's not resolved has not been resolved," Haggard said after the hearing. "That's always going to be hanging out there."