DNA and genetic genealogy have revealed the identity of a woman whose body was found set on fire in San Diego over 20 years ago.
On Jan. 24, 2000, officers responded to a report about a burning body. At the scene, they discovered what appeared to be a young woman who had her hands cut off, likely in an effort to hide her identity.
Authorities released a sketch of the murder victim, but the case went cold for the next two decades — until a New York man, Glen Stevenson, decided to try to locate his biological parents using DNA.
According to Stevenson, just days after he uploaded his DNA profile to a genealogy website, he received an unexpected phone call from San Diego police, who told him he was related to the woman found dead, Nicole Weis, 21. “And so, it was like, 'Wow, my birth father was also the father to the murder victim,’” Stevenson told KFMB-TV.
Detectives were able to identify Stevenson’s two half-sisters — Weis and Kimberly Beach— with the help of a genetic genealogist.
“When I first talked to my half-sister Kim, we cried for about five minutes. Then, we got into, ‘Hi, how are you? Who are you?’” Stevenson said.
According to Beach, her “very funny” and sister with a “free spirit,” ran away from their Michigan home in the early 1990s. “I remember going to family counseling, all of us, still just having a lot of trouble,” Beach told KFMB-TV.
Although Weis was found in San Diego, investigators believe she was living in Los Angeles around the time she was killed.
“I loved her and I miss her,” Beach said. “We need to have some closure. It's just been too long.”
Police have not named any suspects in Weis’ grisly murder.
“That's always going to be the nagging, $64,000 question now,” Stevenson said. “How did it happen? Who did it to her? Will they ever catch the person?”
Anyone with information about Weis or her murder is asked to call the San Diego Police Department's Homicide Unit at (619) 531-2293, or anonymously using Crime Stoppers, (888) 580-8477.