SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A brutal Sacramento murder case that went cold for nearly four decades has been solved thanks to genetic genealogy, detectives say.

Mary London was a 17-year-old sophomore at Sacramento High School. On the morning of Jan. 15, 1981, her body was found dumped on the side of what once was a rural stretch of San Juan Road; she had been stabbed multiple times, police said.

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The case went cold and no suspect was ever identified.

That is until Thursday, when the Sacramento Police Department and Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office announced that they had identified a suspect in the case.

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Detectives say genetic genealogy and transitional DNA have linked a man named Vernon Parker to crime.

“Investigative genetic genealogy has revolutionized law enforcement’s ability to solve violent crime: to identify the guilty and exonerate the innocent,” said District Attorney Anne Marie
Schubert in a statement about the case.

No other information, including what may have led up to the killing, was released – and Parker was murdered a little over a year after Mary’s death, detectives say.

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Genetic genealogy has helped identify a number of suspects in cases that had gone cold. The technique came to prominence in 2018 when it was credited with helping identify Joseph DeAngelo as the suspect in the “Golden State Killer/East Area Rapist” case.