DNA Profiling Solves the Murder: 5 Cold Cases Resolved in 2016

Test tubes laboratory DNA helix model

Photo courtesy of tuuv.tk.

The accuracy of DNA profiling is developing at a rapid pace. And, as a result, the landscape of modern law enforcement is evolving. The accurate results of criminal DNA analysis not only assist in putting criminals behind bars, but it also helps in exonerating those individuals who have been wrongly convicted.

As the end of 2016 is now upon us, here is a roundup of five horrific cold cases that were thankfully solved this year as a result of precise DNA profiling.

The Murder of the Florida Mistress

In 1977, after a rough divorce,  Debra Pentola Clark moved from New York to Florida so that she could get a fresh start in the Sunshine State. Within a short time after arriving in Miami, Debra met and fell in love with a 36 year old married man named Allen Bregman.

Bregman soon bought Debra a swanky South Miami townhome, where he would visit his mistress often, telling his wife that he was out of town on business. In the same year as her arrival, Debra was found beaten and shot to death. No one was ever charged with the heinous crime, and the case went cold.

Then, earlier this year, the case was reopened after investigators uncovered DNA evidence that linked Bregman to the murder. As a result of the newly discovered DNA evidence,  the police arrested Bregman for the killing. In a strange twist of events, the arrest came on the exact 39th anniversary of Debra’s murder.

The Pennsylvania Murder

Over 25 years ago, Louise Talley was horrifically raped and murdered in the Nicetown-Tioga neighborhood of Philadelphia. A man named Anthony Wright was convicted of the murder. His conviction was due in large part to his own confession, and the testimony of witnesses, who are now deceased.

After spending over 20 years in prison, Wright was granted a new trial after a recent DNA analysis uncovered that a local drug dealer was the murderer, not Wright.  The investigation had been reopened in 2013 when Wright had demanded that new DNA testing be conducted, due to the claim that his confession was coerced. After the analysis was conducted, it was determined that a  local convicted crack dealer was responsible for the rape and murder of Louise.

After the results were shown to the court, a judge immediately ordered a new trial. The actual perpetrator died in prison in 2013 on unrelated charges.


Photo courtesy of tes.com.

The Death of Cherita Thurman

In 2002, exterminators found the dead body of 22 year-old Houston resident Cherita Thurman in her apartment. Cherita was found battered, beaten and hog-tied. Investigators never found a suspect, and the case quickly went cold.

In an effort to take advantage of improved forensic technology, law enforcement reopened the case in 2014. Right before the case was reopened, the DNA profile of Craig Porter had been entered into the system after he had been arrested on drug charges. After running a thorough DNA profiling analysis, investigators matched DNA found at Cherita’s crime scene to Porter.

The murderer, Porter, was arrested and is now serving life in prison.

The Killer Real-Estate Agent

As a 48-year old real estate agent, and mother of two kids, Carolyn Heckert appeared to be a well-adjusted member of society. The problem is—Heckert has been carrying around a deep, dark secret for over 27 years. In 1989, she brutally stabbed and killed an 18-year old named Sarah DeLeon in Kansas City, Missouri.

Sarah’s boyfriend used to date Heckert, and it is now believed that the murder was out of jealousy and revenge for “stealing” her boyfriend. Sarah’s murder case went cold shortly after the killing occurred. Recently, however, local Kansas City law enforcement reopened the matter, and took advantage of modern DNA technology. The results of the new investigation, and DNA analysis, led police right to Heckert.

In a rather disturbing twist, Heckert’s DNA has now also been linked to a second murder of another woman, which occurred in 1994. Although Heckert has been charged with Sarah’s murder, no formal charges have been brought against her (yet) with respect to the second murder.

Librarian Charged With Murder

In 1983, a decorated World War I vet was brutally robbed and murdered in his Buffalo home. At 92 years old, Edmund Schrieber was strangled to death with his own neckties. At the time of the killing, law enforcement believed it was a robbery gone wrong by some neighborhood teens. The case was never solved though, and it went cold. Until now.

Recent DNA testing uncovered DNA on the eight neckties used to strangle Edmund. The results led straight to Saundra Adams, a 50 year-old librarian, who was a teenage neighbor of Edmund’s at the time of the murder. Adams has been convicted of second degree murder.

Do you know of any interesting cold cases which have been solved as a result of modern breakthroughs in DNA technology?


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About jchasenovelist

Published thriller author, criminologist, and blogger.
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6 Responses to DNA Profiling Solves the Murder: 5 Cold Cases Resolved in 2016

  1. Reblogged this on Tele's Word Bites and commented:
    I always look forward to new blog posts from Jennifer Chase, they are always worth a read.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Elaine Emmerick says:

    I really enjoyed reading this article!! I’m glad that some of these cold cases are being solved! Thanks for sharing it with your readers!!

    Liked by 1 person

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