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Investigators on Wednesday announced that nearly 40 years after the murder of a developmentally disabled teen went cold, the case now has a primary suspect.
The Sacramento Police Department and the Sacramento County District Attorney's Office released a joint statement on Facebook explaining that new investigative genealogy and DNA tests have linked the 1981 murder of Mary London, a 17-year-old high school student with developmental disabilities, to Vernon Parker.
Parker died just one year after London was murdered and thus cannot be charged in the case.
“Investigative Genetic Genealogy has revolutionized law enforcement’s ability to solve violent crime: to identify the guilty and exonerate the innocent,” District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert said in the statement. “Mary London’s murder is yet another example of the passion and persistence of law enforcement and the use of innovative scientific techniques to bring justice to victims and their families.”
While Parker was killed in 1982, investigators and the victim's surviving family are grateful for answers.
“Though this case won’t end with the suspect facing the justice system, the decades of work by Sacramento Police Department investigators, forensic personnel, and the office of the Sacramento County District Attorney has resulted in what we hope will be closure for London’s family,” Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn said in the post.
London's body was discovered on Jan. 15, 1981 on what was once a rural stretch of San Juan Road in North Sacramento, KCRA reported. She was reported missing the day before, after she wasn't seen on her scheduled bus ride to Sacramento High School, according to KXTV.
It was determined that London was stabbed multiple times and died of her injuries, and she had been sexually assaulted before her death, according to KXTV.
The case went cold, although investigators continued to follow any available leads. In 2016, 35 years after London's death, the case was formally reopened when the Sacramento Police Department released a media advisory asking for the public's help in tracking down a man named "Darrell." He was not a suspect but a friend of London's who police hoped would be able to provide additional information on the case.
Esther Schneider, London's sister, said "thank God" that the case is now put to rest in an interview with KXTV.
"They really did work very hard to find out who did it," Schneider said. "Thank you for everybody who was on the case."
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