DNA evidence helps crack murder investigation of 16-year-old girl from 42 years ago

Source: Las Vegas Police, Unsplash

Dec. 1 2021, Published 9:09 a.m. ET

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Las Vegas police say they have solved the cold case of a 16-year-old girl who was found dead 42 years ago.

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Kim Bryant went missing in January of 1979 and her body was found almost a month later, according to Las Vegas Metro police.

Othram Inc., a Texas-based forensic sequencing laboratory, linked DNA evidence left on Bryant’s body to then-19-year-old Johnny Peterson, Homicide Lt. Raymond Spencer said during a press conference. Peterson died in Jan. 1993, police said.

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On Jan. 26, 1979, Bryant was reported missing after she did not return home from school. She was last seen that day at a fast-food restaurant on North Decatur Boulevard in Las Vegas, Nevada.

On Feb. 20, 1979, Bryant’s body was found in a desert area near West Charleston Boulevard and South Buffalo Drive. She had been sexually assaulted.

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Detectives now believe Peterson abducted Bryant the day she went missing, then sexually assaulted and killed her.

Police “investigated this case for years without being able to identify a suspect,” Spencer said, noting multiple detectives had worked to gather new leads.

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The testing done by Othram Inc. was made possible thanks to a financial contribution from Las Vegas resident Justin Woo, who approached police to help further a cold case investigation using advanced DNA technology.

Bryant’s father, Edward Elliott, thanked investigators for their work in a statement read by Spencer during the news conference.

“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,” Elliott said in the statement.


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