The Las Vegas student murder was resolved 32 years later thanks to a generous donation to DNA testing – Lexington-Fayette, Kentucky

Lexington-Fayette, Kentucky 2021-07-21 20:01:50 –

Las Vegas (KTNV)-According to Las Vegas police, the 1989 killing of a 14-year-old Las Vegas girl has been resolved.

El Dorado High School student Stephanie Ann Isaksson went to school around 6:30 am on June 1, 1989. When she didn’t come home late that day, her father was worried and contacted the school.

He learned that she had never arrived that morning and reported that she was missing. Her body was later found in the desert area near Stewart Street and Linlane. She was sexually assaulted and strangled.

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police said they received a donation from Justin Wu, who lives in Las Vegas, in November 2020 to work on a cold case of murder with minimal DNA.

The Issacson case was selected in January and samples from the suspect were sent to the laboratory.

On July 12, 2021, Othram Labs advised Las Vegas police that they were able to identify suspects in less than 120 picograms of DNA and less than 15 human cells through a test procedure called genome sequencing.

Through a genealogy survey, the suspect was identified as Darren R. Merchand, a resident of the Las Vegas area who committed suicide in 1995.

Prior to his death, Merchand was arrested in connection with the 1986 killing of Nanette Vanderberg. However, the case was dismissed due to lack of evidence. A sample of his DNA from that case was compared to a sample from Issacson’s case and it matched.

Recently, researchers have The oldest known cold case in the United States Use the same DNA sample method for 16 and 18 year old murders in Montana.

Here’s how the process works: Evidence from the case will be sent to the lab for testing. Once a DNA sample is identified, investigators take it and place it in a genealogy database similar to 23andMe or Ancestry.com. Once the match is played, or in the case of Montana, the match will resume and the investigators will treat them as leads and get to work.

In Las Vegas, donor Wu is considered the same as local entrepreneur and angel investor Justin Wu. In December 2020 he launched a non-profit organization called Vegas Helps to help locals in need.

Las Vegas police are interested in making similar donations to help resolve the cold case, lvmpdfoundation.org Specify a donation to the “murder cold case”.

This story was originally reported by Joyce Lupiani on KTNV.com.

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