Police hope new technology can solve 1979 murder - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Police hope new technology can solve 1979 murder

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CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) -

Cedar Rapids Police believe they're much closer to solving the 1979 murder of Michelle Martinko with the help of the new technology.

At only 18-years-old, Martinko was found dead in her car in the parking lot of Westdale Mall. She was stabbed multiple times in the face and chest.

"When someone is taken from our community and it's in a crime where it's a murder or it's something that's in a negative way, we're not going to give up on it. It doesn't matter how old," Cedar Rapids Police Captain Brent Long said.

A new forensic DNA analysis service is able to predict an unknown person's physical appearance through DNA. DNA of the suspect was discovered in 2006.

Now, police believe they have an idea of what the suspect looks like. The service called Snapshot DNA Phenotyping, determined the man is likely to have fair to very fair skin color, blue or green eyes and blonde hair.

Three images captures the face of the suspect, two of them at what he likely looked like at the age of 25. One is with shorter hair and the other with longer hair that would fit in with the trends of the late 70's. The third image is what the suspect would have looked like around the age of 50.

"I have a high level of hope and confidence that this is going to generate the information that we need to get this case closed," Cedar Rapids Police Chief Wayne Jerman said.

For Michelle's only sister, Janelle Stonebraker, the pain of losing her all those years ago hasn't ceased.

"It is heartbreaking forever. You never forget and it ruined my parents' lives forever," she said.

But she hopes that this new technology can bring them that much closer to finding the answers of what happened to her sister.  

"I think it's a closure issue. I really think it is and plus it's the nagging question, how could this have happened? How did it happened? The questions we've had or who done it of the whole thing of all these years has been on our mind all of the time," Stonebraker said.

The Snapshot service is only around two years old. They've assisted in about 100 cases and have solved 12 of those already. They say most of the cases they get are at least 10 years old.

Cedar Rapids police hope to use this technology more in the future on other cases.

Linn County Crime Stoppers is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. An anonymous donor said they're willing to contribute an additional $10,000 to the reward fund and is hoping that the public will match that donation.

Donations can be submitted to Linn County Crime Stoppers, 505 1st Street SW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404. Please put "Martinko cold case" in the memo section of your check or include a note with your donation. You may also drop off a check at the Cedar Rapids Police Station, 505 1st Street SW.

Tips regarding the case can be directed to Investigator Denlinger at 319-286-5442 or Linn County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-CS-CRIME.

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