New DNA Technology Could Solve 1980 Murder Case

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New DNA Technology Could Solve 1980 Murder Case

There are over 211,000 homicides committed since 1980 that have yet to be solved. Among them is Robin Brooks's cold case.

The 20-year-old was found dead inside the bedroom of her apartment in California on April 24, 1980. An autopsy revealed that she had been stabbed, raped and bound by the assailant, who has yet to be identified despite police having a full DNA profile.

Brooks had recently moved from New York and only spent six weeks at her apartment before she was brutally killed.


"She followed her sister out to California and had only been in Sacramento for six months," says Links. "She was young and was out here for an adventure," said Michael Links, a retired Sacremento County Sheriff sergeant.

The timeline suggests that Brooks finished work at midnight and attended a high school party before heading home. When her friends and colleagues couldn't reach her the next day, they immediately knew something was wrong.


The coroner put her time of death around 2:30, but even the authorities aren't sure if the killer attacked her on her way home or waited for her back at the apartment.

"We don't know if she was accosted on the walk home, or if someone from the party accosted her, or she went into the apartment and someone was there," said Links.

37 years later, investigators and Brooks's family have renewed their hope in finding her killer thanks to some new developments.

The Sacramento County Sheriff's Department has finally found a way to use the suspect's DNA profile to solve the case.

After years of failing to find a profile that matched the suspect's DNA, they've employed a technique known as "phenotyping," which uses DNA from the crime scene to create a computer-generated image of the suspect.

"I have been working on this case since 2006," said Links. "We have done familial testing four times and probably eliminated 50 people. Just about everyone she knew has been eliminated. We have had no hits in all of these years. It has always been a "˜whodunit.'"

Now, they finally have a face that can be used to improve their search.


According to the profile created by the $4,000 technology, the killer is a black male, who was relatively young when he committed the crime.

Brooks's sister said that she feels "a lot of new hope," after hearing about this new development. "She was a sweet all American gal. She missed out on a great life."

There's been a number of cases in the U.S that were solved using phenotyping so there is a very good chance that Brooks's killer will finally be caught.

Blair isn't a bestselling author, but she has a knack for beautiful prose. When she isn't writing for Shared, she enjoys listening to podcasts.