18th Judicial District Attorney's Office
Terrence Straughter

An Aurora man, who was sentenced to life in prison without parole Monday for killing a 57-year-old woman, was connected to the crime after his DNA was found on a bratwurst shoved in her throat.

Terrence Terell Straighter, 51, was found guilty last month of first-degree murder in the death of Dana Sems, according to a news release from the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.

Straughter, who served eight years in prison on a domestic violence assault, had been out less than six months in December 2017 when a mutual acquaintance introduced him to Sems. Witnesses told police that Straughter and Sems argued the day of her death, the DA’s office said.

The next day, Sems’ son went to check on her after her medical alarm company could not reach her. He found her battered body under a pile of clothes in her bedroom, the news release said.

The coroner determined Sems suffered a broken neck, fractured ribs and cuts and bruises on her head, prosecutors said. Slaughter had attempted to wash the body, putting a lotion-like substance and salt on the body in an attempt to destroy the evidence, according to the news release.

Slaughter’s DNA was also found on the 6 1/4 inch piece of bratwurst lodged in Sems’ throat, the DA’s office said.

18th Judicial District Attorney's Office
Dana Sems

“This trusting, gentle woman was violently murdered by a man she had befriended,” District Attorney George Brauchler said in the news release. “She was likely unaware that this monster had a history of attacking women and had only recently been released from prison.”

Sems’ family members tried to explain their grief at Slaughter’s sentencing.

“My daughter was 4 years old when her grandmother died,” Sems’ daughter told the judge, according to prosecutors. “She asks over and over what happened, and I can’t tell her the truth because it’s too hard.”