Police have used a familial DNA search to close a more than 40-year-old murder case, the Washington Post reports.
Karen Klaas was sexually assaulted and strangled on January 30, 1976 after dropping her son off at school and returning to her home in Hermosa Beach, Calif., the Post recounts. She was in a coma for five days before dying.
Klaas had been married to Righteous Brothers singer Bill Medley, though they'd divorced some four years prior and Klaas had since remarried. Investigators ruled out her new husband, and Klaas's assailant remained unknown, the Post says.
In the 1990s, DNA evidence from the case eliminated five suspects, and in 2011, investigators turn to familial DNA searching. Such searches are controversial, but have been used in a smattering of cases, including the Grim Sleeper. The Los Angeles County District Attorney tells the Post that familial DNA searches are used as a "last resort" in serious cases.
In Klaas's case, the search came up empty, until last year after relative of the suspect was added to the database, the Post reports. This evidence pointed to Kenneth Troyer, who had been implicated in a number of sexual assaults in California. Troyer escaped from prison in San Luis Obispo in early 1982, and was shot and killed by police in Orange County that March.