Cops Say Genealogy DNA Cracked The Cold Case Slaying Of A North Carolina Teen

"Maybe now I can sleep," Reesa Dawn Trexler’s mom said.

Reesa Dawn Trexler [screenshot form WSOCTV]

Reesa Dawn Trexler [screenshot form WSOCTV]

By: Aaron Rasmussen

The family of a 15-year-old young woman fatally stabbed more than 35 years ago finally has answers in the case, according to police.

Reesa Dawn Trexler’s nude body was found in a front bedroom of her grandparents’ Salisbury, North Carolina home on June 15, 1984. The teen had a severed spinal cord and multiple stab wounds to the neck and chest, the Salisbury Post reported.

At a Tuesday press conference, Salisbury Police Sgt. Travis Shulenberger revealed that the original investigators had obtained and stored a sexual assault kit containing DNA from semen found on Trexler’s body.

Despite the evidence, the case went cold.

In 2018, Jodie Trexler Laird, the victim’s younger sister, appeared on "Dr. Phil" in an attempt to end rumors she was possibly involved in her sister's murder. Her appearance “sparked new interest” in the case, Shulenberger said. Investigators then took a fresh look at the evidence, including the DNA.

Police say they got a break when they used a public genealogy website — the same technology used to capture the Golden State Killer suspect — to match the crime scene DNA to a suspect.

The suspect, whom police have not yet named, is now deceased. He was reportedly alive and in his 40s at the time of the murder. After securing a court order, authorities exhumed the man’s body and allegedly determined the DNA was a match.

“The analysis and investigation confirmed the suspect in the case was not a family member as had been speculated,” authorities said, according to a news release obtained by the Charlotte Observer. “With the suspect being deceased, the Salisbury Police consider the case closed and do not anticipate any charges being placed in relation to the homicide.”

Trexler’s mom, Vickie Oakes, told Charlotte's WBTV News she had “lived with the fact” her daughter’s murder would never be solved. "So many nights laying on the bed wondering and wondering and wondering, and maybe now I can sleep,” she said.

Read more: MSN, Salisbury Post

Next Up

Video: Samuel Little Is The Most Prolific Serial Killer on Record

How did the most prolific serial killer in U.S. history go undetected for so long?

Chicago Student Murdered After Ignoring Cat-Calls, Prosecutor Said

Ruth George’s loved ones say they “hold no hatred towards the perpetrator.”

NC Father Allegedly Raped & Killed His 15-Year-Old Daughter, Confessed To Cops

Joshua Lee Burgess faces multiple charges in connection with his daughter's death, police said.

True Crime News Roundup: Gabby Petito’s Body Found, Boyfriend Remains Missing

A 16-year-old boy pleads guilty to murdering NYC college student Tessa Majors; Britney Spears gets closer to ending her conservatorship; and the Elizabeth Holmes federal Theranos fraud trial continues.

Idaho Police Arrest Suspect In The 1996 Rape & Murder Of Angie Dodge

Authorities say they have charged Brian Dripps, 53, with crimes that sent another man to prison for 20 years until DNA led to his release.

True Crime News Roundup: Pregnant Woman Fatally Shot Two Weeks Before Her Due Date

Plus: Brian Laundrie’s father joins the search for his fugitive son; a group of investigators believe they’ve identified the Zodiac Killer; and a convicted con man on the run for decades is possibly spotted at a Dodgers game.

Woman Searching For Her Birth Mother Helps Solve 1980 Double-Murder Mystery

Investigators spent decades trying to ID the remains of a man and woman discovered buried in the California desert.

Family Still Hopeful For Arrest After 2 Women’s Remains Found Near Each Other In 2008

“Who knows if there are more bodies out there from a serial killer,” says one victim’s sister.