DNA testing has helped detectives solve a 51-year-old cold case involving the kidnapping, rape and murder of a 9-year-old girl who went missing in Georgia while walking home, according to authorities.
On Jan. 13, 1972, Debbie Randall went to a laundromat that was about half a block from her residence but she never returned. The only clue left behind was spilled detergent, the Cobb County District Attorney’s Office said.
Randall’s body was found 16 days later in Marietta by some students at Southern Regional Technical College.
Authorities said Randall had been strangled to death after her abduction and assault.
The scene was processed and police gathered evidence near her body. However, any leads came up empty and the case eventually went cold.
In 2015, the case was reopened by the Cobb County Cold Case Unit. They sent a piece of cloth found on Randall’s body to a lab for updated DNA analysis, officials said.
At a press conference, Cobb County District Attorney Flynn Broady said the DNA found on the cloth generated a partial profile for an unknown male. Over time, investigators were able to locate some of the suspect’s descendants.
Those family members provided investigators with DNA samples for comparison, which matched the DNA found on Randall’s body, authorities said.
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Officials were able to identify the suspect as William Rose, who was 24 years old at the time of the crime and committed suicide in 1974.
After using the DNA samples from Rose’s family members, investigators then exhumed his body and confirmed he was the killer.
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Authorities said Rose reportedly knew people who lived in Randall’s apartment complex.
Randall’s parents both passed away before the case was solved, officials said.
"The answer we are providing today will not bring her back," Broady said. "We can’t extract justice from the perpetrator, but I know he must answer to a higher power. I hope it will provide some relief and answer the question that has lingered for more than 50 years."
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