The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office stated on Monday that it solved its oldest cold case, identifying the alleged murderer of a young girl killed more than 40 years ago in Conroe, roughly 20 miles north of Houston.
Authorities believe convicted and executed capital murderer Gerald Dwight Casey raped and murdered 12-year-old Lesia Michell Jackson in 1979.
However, 10 years after Jackson was assaulted and murdered, Casey beat 29-year-old Sonya Lynn Howell with a telephone receiver and then shot her to death. He was convicted of the crime and sentenced to death. The State of Texas executed Casey by lethal injection in 2002.
Last year, forensic experts used an M-Vac System, a technology initially developed to identify food contamination, to successfully collect a DNA sample from the clothes Jackson was wearing when she was murdered.
They uploaded the sample to the FBI’s DNA database and found that the DNA profile matched Casey’s. A subsequent test was conducted, comparing the sample from Jackson’s clothes to blood drawn from Casey before his execution. It was a match.
“I am proud of our cold case detectives, both past and current, who worked tirelessly to bring closure to the family of Lesia Jackson,” stated Montgomery County Sheriff Rand Henderson, per the Houston Chronicle. “Our hearts are with Lesia’s family, and we are thankful to be able to share this latest news with them.”
Jackson was reported missing on September 7, 1979, after she did not return home from swimming with some of her friends at a nearby lake. An oil worker found her dead body in the woods six days later. The coroner who conducted Jackson’s autopsy determined that she was sexually assaulted before being murdered.
The case eventually went cold after a lengthy investigation produced no suspects or leads.
“We are honored to receive the thanks of Lesia’s family for the work completed by our team. To the Jackson family, your kind words invigorate and challenge us to help other families who have experienced tragedies such as yours,” stated Henderson.
He continued, “To other families mourning like the Jackson family, we will not give up on finding justice for your loved ones. Please know we will be as diligent with your case as we were with Lesia’s.”