In September 1982, 8-year-old Kelly Ann Prosser was abducted while walking home from school in Columbus Ohio, then beaten, sexually assaulted, and strangled to death. Her body was discovered in a field two days later, but her killer was never found. Now, nearly four decades later, authorities say they have their man, thanks to DNA evidence and a podcast. The Columbus Dispatch reports that Harold Warren Jarrell has been IDed as Prosser's killer after detectives dragged genealogy company AdvanceDNA into the case to use crime scene DNA samples to find a match within its database, a method that's been used with success in other longtime cold cases, including that of the Golden State Killer. "We've had the [DNA] profile, we just didn't have a name to go with it," says Deputy Chief Greg Bodker. WSYX says the breakthrough came in March.
A family tree was constructed by members of the Columbus cold-case unit, and an initial match using the DNA database came via a third cousin of Jarrell, who'd served about five years behind bars after being convicted of a sex crime involving a child in 1977—which means he abducted Prosser soon after he got out of prison. Prosser's case was also the debut feature on The Fifth Floor podcast, a Columbus PD venture that examines unsolved homicides. Still, while the mystery is now over, justice still proves elusive: Jarrell died in 1996, when he was 67 years old. When Prosser was kidnapped, he was 53. "We offer our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Kelly Ann Prosser," AdvanceDNA posted on Facebook Friday. "Today is one of those bittersweet moments that has been a long time coming," Prosser's family says in a statement (seen in full here), per the Dispatch. (Read more cold cases stories.)