Decades after two women were sexually assaulted and killed, DNA helped identify a suspect, Nevada police said.
Eddie George Snowden Jr., who died of natural causes at age 80 in 2017, is accused of killing Lori Ann Perera, 31, in 1992, and Pearl Wilson Ingram, 35, in 1994, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said in a Feb. 6 news release.
During a news conference, Ingram’s younger sister, Teresa Board, thanked the cold case unit, saying their work brought her family “much-needed closure,” KTNV reported.
“It has been a long 28 years,” Board said, according to the outlet.
In December 1992, a man walking his dog found Perera’s body “in the desert area, east of the Montgomery Ward retail store,” according to a news release from Ortham Inc., a forensic genealogy company that helped police identify a suspect.
“Perera was found nude with apparent ligature marks on both ankles and both wrists, and it appeared tape had been placed over her mouth,” according to the company.
The Clark County Medical Examiner determined Perera’s cause of death was “asphyxia due to manual strangulation with blunt force trauma to the head,” the company said. Her death was ruled a homicide.
Two years later, in January 1994, a trash collector found Ingram’s body inside a dumpster behind a Vons supermarket, the company said.
Ingram, who was “nude from the waist down,” was found behind trash debris used “in an effort to conceal her,” according to the company.
The medical examiner determined Ingram died from “manual strangulation,” and her death was also ruled a homicide, the company said.
Despite investigation, no suspect was identified in connection with either of the women’s murders, police said.
Decades of investigation
In the time since the deaths, the cases “have been reviewed by numerous LVMPD Detectives, in hopes of developing new evidence,” Ortham said.
While reviewing Perera’s death in 2007, police said they “identified evidence recovered” during her autopsy and asked that DNA testing be done.
A DNA profile was entered into the FBI’s criminal justice DNA database, Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), police said.
When detectives looked into Ingram’s case in 2012, police said they also identified evidence from her autopsy.
The same day the DNA profile from Ingram’s case was sent to CODIS, detectives were notified that DNA from Perera’s and Ingram’s cases matched, linking the same man to the murders, according to Ortham.
“This was a huge breakthrough,” the company said.
Genetic genealogy leads to ID
Last June, investigators requested the help of Ortham to perform a genealogical investigation, police said.
Genetic genealogy uses DNA testing coupled with “traditional genealogical methods” to create “family history profiles,” according to the Library of Congress. With genealogical DNA testing, researchers can determine if and how people are biologically related.
Ortham said it identified Snowden as a possible suspect.
Records also showed that Snowden once lived at an address in 1992 that was about two miles from where Ingram’s body was found, police said. Further, records also indicated he lived in the Las Vegas area during the time of both murders.
He had a criminal history from 1956 to 1979 when he lived across several California cities, including Fresno and Sacramento, police said.
Snowden was confirmed to be a suspect after investigators were able to compare the DNA profile from the two women’s cases with one of his family members, police said.
“I’d like to say, if there are any other family members, keep hope alive. Keep God first. You too can have your closure,” Board said, according to KTNV.