DNA, genealogy investigation techniques help crack 46-year-old cold case

EDMONDS, Wash. – Prosecutors say they’ve solved yet another north sound cold case murder – thanks to sophisticated genetic genealogy DNA technology.

A 77-year-old Edmonds man has been charged in a murder stretching back to 1972.

It was nearly 50-years ago that then 20-year-old Jody Loomis left her home to go horseback riding – but she never made it. Instead, police say she had been raped, shot in the head and left for dead.

The suspect, Terrence Miller, is being held at the Snohomish County jail.

Court documents say Miller was arrested at his home. He doesn’t have any criminal convictions in Washington state, but he had been on police’s radar for other crimes, but he never faced charges – until now.

“Along with advances in DNA technology, we would not be here today,” said Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office Captain Rob Palmer.

Those new investigative technologies, say police, is why they believe they have a killer behind bars who had been on the run for nearly half a century.

“Today we’re one step closer to finding justice for Jody,” said Palmer.

Loomis was riding her bicycle from home near Bothell to ride her horse in what was back then rural Snohomish County. While friends spotted her along the way, she never made it to the horse pasture.

Instead, strangers found her disoriented and half-naked lying down in a wooded area. She died after being rushed to a local hospital.

Investigators discovered Loomis had been raped and shot in the head with a .22-caliber firearm.

Her case had been cold for decades until investigators turned to new methods that had seen success.

“It’s exciting for us to have this opportunity and ability to solve cases and resolve questions that have been around for a long time,” said Palmer.

Using a process called genetic genealogy, in 2018 police were able to identify miller as a suspect using his family’s DNA that had been shared on public databases, and then building a family tree and identify miller’s genetic profile.

After trailing Miller last August, investigators caught a break.

“Detectives followed Miller to a local casino and recovered a discarded coffee cup he had used,” explained Palmer. “A forensic scientist confirmed that DNA collected from the cup matched the suspect DNA from the boots Jody was wearing.

Miller’s arrest occurred this week only blocks from where he lived in 1972 and about five miles away from where Loomis was found.

Using similar technology, detectives pledge to continue seeking justice in other unsolved homicides.

“Whether a murder happened yesterday, last year or over 4 decades ago, it’s our duty to the victims and their families to find their killer,” said Palmer.

Police say there are still elements to this case they are investigating the case and are asking anyone with tips to come forward.

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