The late Sid Shafner’s trip to Poland in 2016 not only brought some closure to the Dachau liberator and Denver resident, it led to the incredible and heartbreaking story of how his daughter, Elayne Feldman, finally solved Shafner’s granddaughter’s murder through connections they made reliving the Holocaust.
Allison Feldman, 31, was found murdered in her Scottsdale, Ariz. home in February, 2015. Police were able to gather the killer’s DNA but weren’t able to find a match. More than a year later, with Allison’s murder still unsolved, her mother Elayne joined the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces’ From Holocaust to Independence mission to Poland and Israel with her father Sid Shafner, a WW II veteran who died in December, 2016.
On the mission, Shafner was reunited with Marcel Levy, the Holocaust survivor he saved — and Elayne, still crying herself to sleep every night over the loss of her daughter, met an Arizona couple, Barbara and Edmund Leff, who would ultimately help lead her to Allison’s killer.
There was a chance that DNA could be matched to a family member of the killer and give police a lead in the case, but Arizona authorities didn’t have the resources to run the costly familial DNA tests. Barbara Leff, who had been an Arizona state senator, worked her connections, involving the Feldmans in the process.
It took almost two years to get the equipment and train Arizona’s police technicians in the new science. Finally, after thousands of hours of searching, the police made a familial DNA match with a state prisoner who had one brother: Ian Mitchem. MitchemDNA was on file from a 2015 DUI arrest, and an exact match was made.
On April 10, 2018, he was arrested for Allison’s murder, and Elayne finally found some closure.
Allison’s family and friends are establishing the Allison Feldman Memorial Scholarship, which will provide University of Arizona students with opportunities to participate in UA Study Abroad programs, paying tribute to the most transformative experience of Allison’s life.