LEHIGHTON, Pa. (WFMZ) - Authorities in Pennsylvania used an ancestry website to help identify the victim in a cold case homicide from more than 40 years ago. It also helped them track down her alleged killer.
Pennsylvania State Police say they were able to identify Evelyn Colon, whose remains were found along the Lehigh River in 1976, through a DNA match in March. That’s when her nephew entered his DNA on a genealogical database website, one that’s used to search for extended family members.
After the identification, investigators arrested Evelyn Colon’s boyfriend at the time of her disappearance, the now 63-year-old Luis Sierra.
Sierra was 19 at the time Evelyn Colon’s remains were found. Court paperwork says he was abusive toward his girlfriend, who was 15 and pregnant with her nearly full-term baby when she was killed.
Luis Colon, the victim’s brother, says he wasn’t surprised to learn Sierra was accused in his sister’s death.
“My sister had told my mother that if anything happened to her, that he’s responsible,” he said.
The family is now hoping for justice after 44 years.
“I’m sad because of the way they found her, and I’m happy because he’s been found,” Luis Colon said. “My hope and my family’s hope is that he will confess.”
Sierra faces one count of homicide in the case. He was extradited Tuesday to Carbon County, and police say he is cooperating with them.
At a press conference Wednesday, State Police said they’re hopeful this isn’t the last case that gets solved with the help of genealogical websites. With the growing DNA databases helping to solve more and more cases across the country, they say there’s no limit to what could be accomplished.
“We do have other cases right now we are working on with that in mind,” said Police Lt. Devon Brutoksy. “By us submitting DNA and that getting put into public databases, which have tens of millions of people in there, it does help us.”