Cold Cases Solved by DNA Evidence

DNA testing allows cold cases (unsolved murders) to benefit from the advanced technology. The technique allows investigators to process and analyze evidence collected at the scene of a crime more efficiently. In this article, you will find examples of cold cases that were solved many years after the crime.

The Case of Gina Justi

The dead body of 14-year-old Gina Justi was found in an orange grove in 1971. She had been raped, beaten in the head, and stabbed in the back. The assailant had strangled her with a leather strap. 40 years later, a DNA match led authorities to a 69-year-old named Jerry Fletcher, who had lived about seven miles from the Justi family at the time of the murder. While he may have escaped being charged with Gina’s murder in 1971, he did not escape prison. However, it was at the expense of another life. Fletcher was convicted in the murder and kidnapping of a 13-year-old girl in Illinois in 1974. He raped the girl, strangled her with a sash and left her body in a cemetery in 1973.

The Case of Armida Wiltsey

Armida Wiltsey was killed in 1978 when she left her house to jog on a running trail close to Contra Costa, California. When the 40-year-old housewife was assaulted, police revealed that she had put up a fierce fight for her life. Evidence was uncovered underneath her fingernails. At the time, the material meant nothing to the case, but the nail clippings were still saved. Cops directed their attention to a man who had been convicted of murdering three other women. However, they were unable to locate any evidence to link him to the murder of Armida. In 2000, a detective pulled out the cold case and sent the clippings to the lab. DNA was extracted and a match was found , belonging to a criminal named Darryl Kemp, who had a lengthy rap sheet.

In 1957, he’d been sentenced to death for the rape and murder of Marjorie Hipperson. Fifteen years later, the Supreme Court negated the death penalty, which led to thousands of murderers across the country being set free, including Kemp. Police believe that after a few days after being released, he killed Armida after abducting and raping her. She was eventually strangled to death. In 2009, a California court once again sentenced Darryl Kemp to death.

The Case of Randell Lee Harvey

With the help of meticulous DNA testing and the analysis of skeletal remains, one of the oldest cold cases in Houston, Texas was laid to rest. The result was a link to a serial killer to one of his victims. It was 1971 when 15-year-old Randell Lee Harvey left his home , riding his bike to his place of employment. He had finished his shift at a local gas station but never returned home. His bike was never found. Two days later, his mother reported him missing. His skeletal remains turned up in a location associated with serial Dean Corll, who targeted teenage boys from 1970 to 1973 for sadistic crimes. However, no one knew that the remains belonged to Randell. It wasn’t until 35 years later that DNA testing, skeletal analysis and circumstantial evidence.

DNA evidence played an important role in identifying the victims of Dean Corll.