Investigators used genealogical technology to determine the killer of a Michigan woman who was missing for 33 years before her remains were identified. using the same technique earlier this year, authorities said.
Stacey Lyn Chahorski was reported missing in January 1989, but it took investigators more than three decades to determine that a body found in Dade County, Georgia, in December 1988 was hers, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation announced. at the beginning of this year.
Now, his killer has been identified as Henry Fredrick “Hoss” Wise, a truck driver who was driving through Dade County on his regular trucking route, FBI Special Agent in Charge of the Atlanta Field Office Keri Farley said during an interview. a press conference on Tuesday.
Chahorski’s case is “the first time we know that investigative genealogy was used to identify both the victim and the killer in the same case,” Farley said.
Wise, who was also a stunt pilot, was killed in a car accident in 1999, Farley said. He had a criminal record that included robbery, assault and obstruction of a police officer, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said in a statement.
“Investigators found what was believed to be the killer’s DNA at the scene. [del crimen]but for years it couldn’t be linked to the person,” Farley said.
Investigators from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the FBI were able to link Wise to Chahorski’s murder by enlisting support from Othram, a Texas-based lab credited with helping solve a long list of other cold cases. Othram also helped authorities identify Chahorski’s remains.
After Othram received a positive DNA genealogy analysis of crime scene evidence, Georgia investigators began interviewing possible next of kin and collecting DNA samples, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said. Eventually, they were able to identify Wise as Chahorski’s killer, the agency said.
Genealogy technology was crucial to the case, as Wise’s criminal record predates mandatory DNA testing after felony arrests, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
While advances in DNA analysis were instrumental in solving the crime, Farley also credited those who worked on the case.
“Technology alone did not solve this case,” he said. “The determination of both FBI and GBI agents, along with all of the agents who worked on this case for more than 33 years, helped bring this case to its conclusion.”
When Chahorski’s remains were identified, authorities said his body would be returned to his family. He had previously been buried since 1989 in an unmarked grave.
FBI Special Agent Tim Burke said at the time that news of Chahorski’s identification brought his mother, Mary Beth Smith, “a little bit of peace.”
“We were also able to provide her with some jewelry that was found on Stacey here at the crime scene and return it to her,” Burke said.