A 63-year-old man has been arrested for murdering his pregnant ex-girlfriend and dumping her body in a river – 45 years after allegedly committing the crimes.
Luis Sierra, from Queens, New York, was arrested on Wednesday in connection with the death of Evelyn Colon, who was 15-years-old when she disappeared in New Jersey, in 1976.
The dismembered remains of a teenager and her unborn daughter were found packed into suitcases along a riverbank in Pennsylvania, shortly after Evelyn was reported missing. But it’s taken until now for police to discovered that the body parts belong to her – ending four decades of wondering pain for her family.
The major breakthrough came after investigators used a DNA sample from Evelyn’s nephew – used for an ancestry kit – to identify who the mystery remains belong to.
That led police to arrest Luis Sierra, who was 19 at the time and was Evelyn’s live-in boyfriend in Jersey City, the New York Times has reported. Mr Sierra, of Ozone Park, Queens, was charged with one count of criminal homicide and is awaiting extradition to Pennsylvania, the state police there announced.
The landmark arrest in the cold case comes 45 years after Evelyn was raped, strangled, shot and dismembered, but was only known as Beth Doe to investigators, who had asked for the public’s help in identifying her and had chased some false leads.
But all their investigations led to dead-ends, until recently, thanks to the help of DNA from an ancestry kit.
A niece of Evelyn’s, Miriam Colon-Veltman, said on Thursday that investigators had used a DNA sample from Evelyn’s nephew, collected around late 2017, to help identify the remains. She added that her brother had wanted to learn more about his heritage and had elected to publicly list his genetic profile in the hope of locating his missing aunt.
The remains, which were found in December 1976, had been exhumed in 2007 in an attempt to find new information about the victim.
Last year, investigators checked the DNA collected from the remains against publicly available genetic material that included the sample from Evelyn’s nephew, providing the breakthrough that police had been waiting for.
Ms Colon-Veltman, said: ‘We never thought this would be the way we would find her.
‘We thought she was out there living her life. The hope that she was living her life, and the hope was that we would reconnect with her one day and find out why she wasn’t around.’
In a news release on Wednesday, the Pennsylvania State Police said ‘numerous interviews and investigational processes were conducted following her identification which led to the development of a suspect’.
Police did not say, however, what exactly led them to arrest Sierra during their investigation.
Miriam Colon-Veltman also declined to discuss how investigators had connected Sierra to Evelyn’s death, saying she did not want to compromise the prosecution, the New York Times added.
During Evelyn’s killing, her ears and breasts were removed from her body, according to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, who added that her remains had been shoved into three suitcases and thrown from a highway overpass in East Side, Pennsylvania. That’s about 110 miles from Jersey City, where Evelyn lived.
Ms Colon-Veltman added: ‘She was very loved and very cared for.
‘She wasn’t alone. She wasn’t cast aside in life or tossed like she was in the river. She wasn’t a runaway.’
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