The identity of the murderer of a teenage girl has finally been determined by Las Vegas Police, over 42 years later.
On January 26, 1979, 16-year-old Kim Bryant didn’t return home from school and was subsequently reported missing. Her body was later found in a desert, having been sexually assaulted, on February 20, 1979.
Police ‘investigated this case for years without being able to identify the suspect,’ according to Lt Ray Spencer from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.
However, advanced DNA testing and genome sequencing recently gave police a breakthrough.
Following a financial donation from Justin Woo, a resident in Las Vegas, DNA evidence from the case was able to be sent for testing and genealogical research at a forensic sequencing laboratory in Texas, CNN reports.
In a news conference, Spencer stated:
Ten days ago we were notified that the genological profile built by Othram labs, based on sperm recovered from the body of Kim Bryant at autopsy, revealed that Johnny Blake Peterson was the person that kidnapped, sexually assaulted and murdered Kim Bryant.
According to Spencer, Peterson was ‘never on the radar as a suspect for [the] murder’.
Peterson had been 19 years old at the time of Bryant’s death, but later died in January 1993, police say.
At the news conference, a statement was read out on behalf of Edward Elliott, Bryant’s father.
Kim was a beautiful girl with a bright future, and it makes me happy that something is being done to help solve cases such as hers.
Justin Woo, whose funding made the breakthrough possible, hoped the results ‘provided a little bit of closure’ for Bryant’s family.
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact the Rape Crisis England and Wales helpline on 0808 802 9999 between 12pm–2.30pm and 7pm– 9.30pm every day. Alternatively, you can contact Victim Support free on 08 08 16 89 111 available 24/7, every day of the year, including Christmas
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677