DNA Solves Murder That Haunted Cops for 52 Years

Suspect in California killing died in 2015
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 24, 2020 2:45 AM CDT
DNA Identifies Victim, Suspect in 1968 Murder
Anita Louise Piteau.   (Orange County District Attorney's Office)

A homicide mystery that haunted southern California police detectives for 52 years has been solved with genetic genealogy that identified the young woman who was slain and a now-deceased man who is suspected of being the killer, authorities said Thursday. The victim was Anita Louise Piteau, 26, one of seven children in a family from Augusta, Maine, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement. Huntington Beach Police Chief Rob Handy saluted the persistence of investigators in pursuing justice over decades, the AP reports. "Although the suspect was no longer alive to face the consequences, providing the family with the information of what happened to Anita and allowing them to properly lay her to rest is of tremendous importance," he said.

Three boys playing in a farm field found the victim’s body on March 14, 1968. The unidentified woman had been raped and severely beaten, and her neck was slashed. Police conducted an extensive investigation and preserved evidence, including a cigarette butt found near the body. But the case went cold, and the victim became Orange County's oldest unsolved Jane Doe case. Last year, police and district attorney’s staff turned to the investigative genetic genealogy technique to find a possible family tree. That led to identification of a man named Johnny Chrisco as the suspect, authorities said. Chrisco died of cancer in 2015 and was buried in Washington state, according to investigators, who still don’t know how he and the victim may have known each other.

(More California stories.)

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