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Decades-old cold case of 12-year-old’s murder solved with new dna forensics

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Lesia Michell Jackson and Gerald Dwight Casey

Lesia Michell Jackson would have been in her late 50s by now, perhaps putting kids through college or watching them graduate high school.

Instead, the Texas 12-year-old never got the chance to reach those ages herself. Her life was taken away in 1979 by a man who kidnapped, raped, and murdered her.

For decades, the girl’s slaying remained a mystery. All leads were exhausted, and the case went cold. Now, thanks to an advanced DNA-detection tool, her killer has been identified — and he too is dead.

Police used a new forensic technology known as M-Vac to identify Gerald Dwight Casey as the man who snatched the girl after she’d spent an afternoon swimming at a lake with friends and relatives.

M-Vac was originally developed to detect food contamination, according to NBC News. This wet-vacuum method of collecting DNA has since been adapted for forensic investigations. It comes in handy when swabbing won’t do the job, such as on particularly porous surfaces.

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The technology-enabled investigators to process samples from Lesia’s clothing, the Montgomery Sheriff’s Office said. This led them to Casey.

Casey, it turns out, had already been executed in 2002 for another murder.

It was Sept. 7, 1979, when Lesia disappeared from her neighborhood in Montgomery County, about 40 miles north of Houston, after a day of swimming at a neighborhood pool, police said. Her family called the police, who searched extensively. First, they found her glasses and, about a week later, her discarded body.

“The next day her glasses were found at an area intersection, and sadly, on September 13, 1979, an oilfield worker found her body in a heavily wooded area along a pipeline near Exxon Road,” the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement on Monday. “An autopsy revealed Lesia had been sexually assaulted and murdered.”

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That kicked off an “extensive investigation into her death that lasted for years, and while all leads were explored, the case eventually became cold,” police said.

The sheriff’s office created a Cold Case Homicide Squad in 2005 that took over the investigation. In October last year, M-Vac technology was used to process evidence from the girl’s clothing. It yielded DNA from an “unknown male” that was matched to Casey, whose samples were in the FBI CODIS database.

The search revealed that Casey had been executed by lethal injection on April 18, 2002, for a 1989 murder. It also gave police a blood sample that confirmed the exact DNA match with the M-Vac evidence, confirming him as Lesia’s killer, police said.

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“This complex and detailed investigation spanning 43 years is the oldest cold case homicide investigated and solved by the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office,” the department said, promising that this is not the last we’ll hear of this technology. “The tenacity and diligence in solving this case by a dedicated team is a reminder to our public and to those who commit crimes in our communities that we will never cease our efforts to solve the hardest of cases and bring closure to traumatized families.”

Editor at! Cecelia Chintoh is the name I respond to. I am self-motivated and an editor at I have found interest in writing articles like entertainment news, sports, Wikipedia, biography, obituary, News, lifestyle and many more around the world. Follow me on Facebook and LinkedIn @Cecelia Chintoh.

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