A man has been arrested in the murder of a 38-year-old woman in Dallas, Texas, with the help of the same DNA technology used to catch California’s notorious ‘Golden State Killer’, prosecutors have said.
Edward Morgan, 60, was arrested Friday and faces a capital murder charge 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 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 leggings, the Morning News reported. Thompson had also been sexually assaulted, according to the prosecutor’s office.
His case was reopened in 2009 and DNA samples from his autopsy revealed the DNA of a possible male suspect, prosecutors said. But no exact match was found and the matter went cold.
In 2018, Noe Camacho, a cold-blooded homicide detective with the Dallas Police Department, reopened the case while keeping an eye out for new technologies and methods, including tapping into ancestry databases. If a suspect’s DNA is not in the FBI’s database, DNA recorded elsewhere, such as on a genealogy website, can help investigators identify 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 DNA analysis and Morgan was identified as the suspect in Thompson’s death.
Subsequent DNA testing for Morgan confirmed a match this week to male DNA taken from Thompson’s 1984 autopsy, the prosecutor’s office said.
It was unclear whether investigators suspected Morgan until DNA pointed them to him. Dallas County Public Defender officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Forensic genealogy analysis is the same technology used to catch Joseph DeAngelo, known as the “Golden State Killer,” the prosecutor’s office said.
Investigators suspected DeAngelo, now 76, and tracked him, collected DNA from discarded tissue and linked him to both a 1980 double murder in Ventura County and an unidentified relative. He is serving a life sentence for 13 murders and 13 rape-related crimes.
The Associated Press contributed.