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State Police Solve 1980 Cold Case Murder

MERCER, Pa. (KDKA) — The Pennsylvania State Police’s D Troop Criminal Investigations Evaluation Unit announced the closure of a 1980 cold case on Wednesday.

Using DNA testing and other methods, they identified homicide victim Edwin Rodriguez and his killer, Nestor Quintanal.

Mercer County District Attorney Peter Acker reviewed the case and said homicide charges would have been filed, but Quintanal died in Florida in 2002 at age 71.

On November 6, 1980, a body was found burning near I-80 in Wolf Creek Township. After an autopsy, the body could not be identified due to third-degree burns to 70% of his body, but it was determined to be a 16-19-year-old, 115-pound male. and 5’8″ tall.

Advances in technology and funding helped push the investigation forward in 2007 when a DNA profile was obtained from the victim based on evidence gathered from the 1980 autopsy.

Then, in January 2019, the victim’s DNA was sent to a lab for genetic genealogy screening.

A cousin of the victim has been identified. They were able to identify the victim as Rodriguez, from Chicago.

Further investigation determined that the Quintanal was the killer. Quintanal was a family friend and the two moved from Chicago to Florida in the fall of 1980.

After they left, Rodriguez’s family never heard from him again.

Rodriguez’s remains were returned to his family in Chicago, officially closing the case.

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