The 1982 cold case murder of an 8-year-old Ohio girl abducted and killed while walking home from school was linked to a now dead, convicted child sex offender, authorities on Friday said.
Cops in Columbus investigating the murder of Kelly Ann Prosser said DNA evidence identified Harold Wayne Jarrell as the child’s killer. Jarrell, who spent five years in prison for an unrelated, child sex crime, died in 1996 at the age of 67.
Prosser was found beaten, sexually assaulted and strangled to death after she was abducted on September 20, 1982 while on her way home from the Indianola Elementary School in Columbus.
Police said they used the help of Advance DNA, a company that maintains a genealogical database, to trace genetic evidence recovered from the crime scene 38 years ago back to Jarrell.
The 1982 cold case murder of 8-year-old Kelly Ann Prosser, who was abducted and killed while walking home from school was linked to a now dead, convicted child sex offender, authorities on Friday said
Cops in Columbus investigating the murder of Prosser said DNA evidence identified Harold Wayne Jarrell as the child’s killer. Jarrell (pictured) spent five years in prison for an unrelated, child sex crime and died in 1996 at the age of 67
‘We’ve had the (DNA) profile, we just didn’t have a name to go with it,’ said Deputy Chief Greg Bodker, the Columbus Dispatch reports.
The investigative approach used to link the killer’s DNA, initially through a third cousin, has emerged as a revolutionary technique in solving cold cases and was instrumental in identifying ‘Golden State Killer’ Joseph DeAngelo Jr.
Cops said they had wanted to look at Jarrell, but did not have the evidence to bring him in as a suspect.
The man, who also was known as Warren Jarrell, passed away in Las Vegas and had no connection to Prosser’s family. He would have been 53 at the time of the child’s murder.
‘When Kelly Ann left for school the morning of Sept. 20, 1982, we did not expect our time with her would abruptly end or that our future would change in every way imaginable,’ the relatives said.
‘One moment we had this dazzling, mischievous 8-year-old little girl. Then suddenly all we had left were memories, photographs that will never age, a calendar marking a dreadful new ‘holiday,’ a grave and pieces of Kelly’s life stored in a box.’
Columbus Deputy Chief Greg Bodker said police had a DNA profile after the 1982 slaying, but were unable to identify who it belonged to. Investigators years later recruited help from a genealogical database that linked the genetic information to Jarrell.
Prosser’s relatives cooperated with investigators over the years.
The solving of her murder was one of those ‘bittersweet moments that has been a long time coming,’ the family said, adding their gratitude to authorities.
‘Thank you for never giving up, thank you for never forgetting about this innocent child and thank you for never forgetting that you were working for Kelly Ann,’ the relatives said.
‘Today, you have given us the most incredible gift. And this gives us hope that other homicide cold cases will be solved.’
Solving Prosser’s murder was one of those ‘bittersweet moments that has been a long time coming,’ her family said, adding their gratitude to authorities
Cops said that an anonymous tip left with authorities in 2014 also had pointed to Jarrell as a possible suspect.
Detectives, however, backed away because the tip had used a variation of Jarrell’s name and had discrepancies in the spelling.
The cold case remained such a high priority for investigators that a 2019 podcast known as ‘The Fifth Floor’ – referring to the detective office at police headquarters – debuted with Prosser’s case.
‘This little girl’s name came up with everyone I talked to, whether it be a scientist at the crime lab, an administrator, detectives,’ Bodker said. ‘They all say it’s the one they really wanted to solve before they retired.’
Cops displayed Prosser’s cold case poster at a press conference with the words ‘solved’ across the top after 38 years of investigating the murder
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