Michigan Cold Case Solved 33 Years Later Using Forensic Genealogy
Three decades after she went missing, the mysterious details surrounding a Michigan woman's death have been unraveled thanks to forensic genealogy.
New Technology Used to Identify Both the Victim and the Killer
Stacey Chahorski went missing in January of 1989. The then-19-year-old was traveling the country but never returned to her home in Norton Shores. Norton Shores is located just south of Muskegon in Muskegon County.
Her disappearance has remained a mystery ever since Although her body was found nearly 10 years later near Alabama, she was never identified.
Although authorities had what they believed to be her killer's DNA from the scene, they were unable to identify the person who had killed Stacey.
However, earlier this year, the FBI sent DNA to Othram - a private lab in Texas that specialized in forensic genealogy. Using this technology, the lab was able to create a genealogy profile which allowed investigators to begin interviewing potential family members.
Eventually, that roadmap led the FBI to Stacey Chahorski and a man identified as Henry 'Hoss' Wise.
Keri Farley is an FBI special agent from Atlanta, Georgia.
“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,” Farley said.
Wise was a truck driver and stunt driver with a criminal history in Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina.
Killer Died Before He Could be Identified
Henry Wise died in a car accident in 1999, about 11 years after he killed Stacey Chahorski.
NBC News reports that Chahorski's family was not present at the news conference when her killer's identity was announced but her mother was at peace knowing that the man who had killed her daughter is dead.