In a Decades-Old Case, a Genetic Genealogy First

Technology identifies victim Stacey Lyn Chahorski and her killer
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 7, 2022 2:37 PM CDT
Updated Sep 10, 2022 4:10 PM CDT

In March, authorities in Georgia announced they'd used genetic genealogy to identify a murder victim whose name had been unknown for 33 years. Just over five months later, they say they've identified the woman's killer using the same technology. Stacey Lyn Chahorski—whose body was found along I-59 in Dade County, near the Alabama state line, on Dec. 16, 1988—was killed by Henry Fredrick "Hoss" Wise, a truck driver whose route took him through Georgia, authorities announced Tuesday. "This case is key because it's the first time that we know of that investigative genealogy was used to identify both the victim and the killer in the same case," FBI Special Agent in Charge of the Atlanta Field Office Keri Farley said, per ABC News.

Chahorski of Michigan told family members that she was in North Carolina and would be traveling back to her home state before she was reported missing in January 1989, according to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System. Her remains were only identified after DNA from the crime scene was sent to Othram, a Texas-based lab that has helped solved many other cold cases. The same lab produced a DNA profile for a male suspect in June, at which point detectives began interviewing possible relatives, per ABC. A relative of Wise—who worked for Western Carolina Trucking before dying in a stunt car accident at South Carolina’s Myrtle Beach Speedway in 1999—provided a DNA sample that showed him to be the killer, authorities said.

Wise "had a criminal history in Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina, ranging from theft, assault, to obstruction of a police officer," the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said in a release, adding the cases predated mandatory DNA testing after felony arrest. A rep for Chahorski’s family said her mother was "very at peace" knowing her daughter’s killer had long been dead, per WXIA. ABC reports he burned to death. "We were also able to provide some jewelry that was found on Stacey back here at the crime scene and return that to [her mother]," FBI Special Agent Tim Burke said earlier this year, per CNN. (Read more cold cases stories.)

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