A man has been arrested in the 38-year-old cold case slaying of a woman in Dallas, Texas, with help from the same DNA technology used to catch California’s notorious “Golden State Killer,” prosecutors said.
Edward Morgan, 60, was arrested Friday and faces a charge of capital murder in the death of Mary Jane Thompson, Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot said in a statement Friday.
Thompson, 21, was last seen Feb. 11, 1984, when she took a bus to get to a medical clinic that ended up being closed, The Dallas Morning News reported.
Thompson’s body was found two days later behind a warehouse. She had been fatally strangled with her own leg warmers, the Morning News reported. Thompson had also been sexually assaulted, according to the DA’s office.
Her case was reopened in 2009, and DNA swabs from her autopsy turned up DNA from a possible male suspect, prosecutors said. But no exact matches were found and the case went cold.
In 2018, Noe Camacho, a cold case homicide detective with the Dallas Police Department, reopened the case again with an eye on new technology and methods, including tapping into ancestry databases. If a suspect’s DNA isn’t in the FBI’s database, DNA that is on the record elsewhere, such as on a genealogy website, can help investigators narrow down possible relatives of a suspect.
Investigators aren’t saying exactly how they focused on Morgan, but said the case was submitted in 2020 for forensic genetic genealogy analysis and Morgan was identified as the suspect in Thompson’s death.
Subsequent DNA testing for Morgan confirmed a match this week with male DNA swabbed during Thompson’s autopsy in 1984, the DA’s office said.
It wasn’t clear if investigators suspected Morgan before DNA may have pointed them his way. Dallas County public defender officials didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Forensic genetic genealogy analysis is the same technology used to catch Joseph DeAngelo, known as the “Golden State Killer,” the DA’s office said.
Investigators suspected DeAngelo, now 76, and shadowed him, collected DNA from discarded tissue, and matched it both to a 1980 double murder in Ventura County and to an unidentified relative. He is serving life without parole for 13 murders and 13 rape-related crimes.
Dennis Romero is a breaking news reporter for NBC News Digital.
The Associated Press