New technology may help solve 1979 murder

Published: May. 16, 2017 at 5:10 PM CDT
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New technology is providing a suspect sketch that police say could help them solve a 37-year-old murder in Cedar Rapids.

The brutal slaying of 18-year-old Michell Martinko has baffled Cedar Rapids police since her death in 1979.

Police say a new Virginia company used the killer's DNA found on Martinko to make the sketches.

The images produced by Parabon-NanoLabs are called "Snapshots." And based on the genetic information from the killer's DNA first isolated from evidence in 2006 police are looking for a fair-skinned male with blond hair and blue or green eyes.

The Virginia company produced three different Snapshots. The first shows the suspected killer at age 25. A second is also at age 25 with a different hairstyle. A final one is what that same person might look like more recently at age 50.

Matt Denlinger, a CRPD investigator, says the images aren't the same as photos.

"It's not meant to be a picture. It's their best effort at a real close resemblance," he said.

Investigators working on this Cedar Rapids cold case learned of the lab's work in what's called DNA phenotyping and decided to give the new technology a try.

The lab has produced about 100 similar suspect images based on DNA characteristics. Twelve of those images led to a DNA match with a suspect in other cases.

The actual cost of the DNA Snapshot was a little more than $5,000. One investigator says if nothing else it will speed up the process of eliminating someone as a suspect in the Martinko case.

Since DNA was discovered, police have ruled out about 100 individuals as possible suspects.

Police say their best hope is someone sees the images and

brings up a memory that could help police solve this decades-old murder case.