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A Las Vegas man is in custody after police say new DNA testing connected him to the 1974 murder of a California woman.
Carlin Edward Cornett, 68, was arrested at his Nevada residence on Tuesday, according to the National City Police Department. In a release obtained by Oxygen.com, authorities from California say Cornett murdered store clerk Christy Bryant at her place of work 47 years ago.
“During the early morning hours of Wednesday, July 31, 1974, Christy Ellen Bryant (22-years-old at the time) was brutally stabbed to death by an unknown assailant while working alone at the 7-Eleven store once located at 702 Highland Avenue in National City,” the release stated.
The location is now home to a Domino’s Pizza fast food restaurant.
National City detectives said the key to cracking the case stemmed from evidence collected at the original crime scene nearly half a century ago.
“Even though DNA was not used at the time, police personnel on scene collected forensic evidence (blood) belonging to the suspect,” the news release stated. “Despite exhaustive efforts, National City Police were unable to identify the killer during the initial investigation, and the case went cold.”
In 2008, investigators submitted the blood to the San Diego Sheriff’s Crime Laboratory for entry into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). Investigators say the sample yielded no leads but was checked and rechecked over the years.
In 2012, NCPD detectives requested that the San Diego Sheriff’s Office run a Y-STR analysis, a chromosomal profile commonly used in genealogical DNA testing.
“Beginning in 2013, The National City Police Department joined forces with the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office – Cold Case Homicide Unit to try and solve the case,” the release stated. “It was through this partnership, as well as advancements in forensic technology related to DNA, that a suspect was identified.”
With the help of the NCPD, the San Diego District Attorney’s Office, and the FBI, Las Vegas authorities arrested Carlin Cornett at his home and booked him into the Las Vegas Detention Center.
He will be extradited back to San Diego to face murder charges.
“I do want him to pay for what he did,” said Christy Bryant’s sister, Holly Bryant, according to CBS affiliate 8 News Now. “And I hope his family can accept it as well.”
Christy Bryant moved to San Diego in 1971 as a servicewoman for the U.S. Marine Corps, according to the release. She medically retired following a car accident in 1972.
“We are committed to solving cold case homicides and prosecuting killers in collaboration with our law enforcement partners,” San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan said in a statement to Oxygen.com. “Pursuing justice for families who lost their loved ones to violence is a priority for us no matter how many years have gone by. We will never give up and continuously use the latest in crime scene investigation techniques to hold criminals accountable.”
According to Stephan's office, Cornett’s arrest came as part of their grant-funded Cold Homicide and Research Genealogy Effort (CHARGE) initiative. Cornett was the third arrest under the grant and the first in which the defendant was still living.
Christy Bryant is survived by her father, Dr. N. Dale Bryant of Florida, and her sisters, Holly and Tari Bryant.
“People have suffered because of her loss,” Holly told ABC’s 10 News, noting that their mother died before she could get answers. “Things she wanted to accomplish and wanted to do, but she was never able to.”