BELLINGHAM -- Prosecutors say a little bit of spit on an old letter could help prove an 18-year-old Bellingham murder case.

Bruce Hummel is accused of killing his wife, Alice, in October 1990. After she disappeared, Hummel told their children she had simply run off, and the children didn't report her missing for more than a decade.

Whatcom County Prosecutor Dave McEachran says Hummel sent relatives a letter in the mid-1990s purporting to be from his missing wife, to make them believe she was still alive. The prosecutor wrote in court papers this week that detectives tracked down the letter and plan to analyze DNA taken from the stamp and the envelope to prove that Bruce Hummel - not Alice - sent it.

No trace of Alice's body has ever been found. Hummel's murder trial is set to begin next month. He fled to Westport, just north of the Long Beach Peninsula on the Washington coast, when he realized police were after him. There he joined a community acting troupe - and played the killer in a dinner-theater mystery.

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