DNA Matches Lead to Resolution in 45 Year Old Murder Case

(AmericanProsperity.com) – An Oregon man was convicted of murder on December 19 in the 1978 death of an underage girl in Alaska, in a criminal case that investigators managed to solve after using genetic genealogy nearly five decades later. The 67-year-old suspect Donald McQuade was convicted in an Anchorage state court of homicide in the death of 16-year-old Shelley Conolly. Her body was found near a highway pullout between Girdwood and Anchorage. McQuade’s sentence will be made on April 26.

Following the girl’s death, Alaska State Troopers created a DNA profile from different swabs they collected from her corpse. However, they failed to get a match, even when some reports of the time claimed they were investigating different suspects. Back in 2019, the troopers said they were turning to genetic genealogy testing, as they said they thought it could prove more useful in their effort to identify Conolly’s killer. The testing involves comparing a DNA profile to others stored in genealogic databases to find individuals who share the same genetic information.

McQuade was living in the so-called Last Frontier when the girl died. Investigators eventually said they managed to get a DNA sample from the 67-year-old man, and announced it matched DNA detectives found on Conelly’s body. While he was arrested in 2019, his trial was delayed because of the onset of the COVID pandemic, just as with many other criminal suspects across the country.

According to a KTUU report, Alaska State Troopers’ main investigator Randy McPherron suspended his retirement to lead the case. He told the media outlet they managed to arrest McQuade after using regular and “good old police work.” He added that investigators determined through different records and databases that the suspect was living in Anchorage four days before the girl’s homicide.

McPherron pointed out it was “exciting” to come out from his retirement to be part of such an “important” investigation and solve a decades-long crime. He also said that the new “DNA technique” is a “game-changer.”

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