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Lifestyle & Human Interest

Teen's Alleged Killer Finally Revealed After Victim Was Abducted, Raped and Killed 40 Years Ago

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On Jan. 26, 1979, 16-year-old Kim Bryant went missing. She was a student at Western High School in Las Vegas, and when she didn’t come home from school, her mother reported her as missing.

In less than a month, she was found — but under the worst circumstances. Her body was recovered from the desert, and it was determined that she had been kidnapped, raped and murdered.

It was a cruel injustice that such a heinous crime should go unsolved for so long, but thanks to the concern and funding of one local, the case was finally cracked.

On Monday, the Las Vegas Metro Police Department announced that, thanks to a donation from philanthropist Justin Woo of Las Vegas, the DNA evidence they had was sent to a Texas-based forensic sequencing lab that is known to be able to provide genetic profiles from even tiny amounts of evidence.

Dr. Kristen Mittelman, Othram’s chief business developer, said they “can unlock DNA clues from trace events of DNA or evidence that is older or degraded.”

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“Any type of forensic evidence, and we are the only lab in U.S. or Canada that is built only for this,” she said, according to KVVU-TV.

LVMPD had run DNA from Bryant’s case earlier this year, but had been unable to make any headway. With Woo’s $5,000 stipend, though, Othram was able to identify a suspect that was then cross-checked by the LVMPD forensic lab.

The crime was traced to a then-19-year-old Johnny Blake Peterson, who at some point had attended the same high school as Bryant.

“Detectives now believe Peterson abducted Bryant the day she went missing, then sexually assaulted and killed her,” the LVMPD released in a statement.

Sadly for those hoping for justice, Peterson had already passed away in 1993 — but the police department is hoping that despite that, the fact that the cold case was solved would give other bereaved families hope that they might see justice for their own loved ones.

Edward Elliot, Bryant’s father, issued a statement that was read at a LVMPD news conference, according to CNN.

“Kim was a beautiful girl with a bright future, and it makes me happy that something is being done to help solve cases such as hers,” the statement read.

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This isn’t the first time Woo has helped crack a case: Prior to this donation, he’d made another $5,000 gift to solve the 32-year-old case of Stephanie Isaacson. Othram was able to build a genetic profile of the suspect with a mere 15 human cells — the smallest amount of DNA ever used in a criminal case.

With the help of others, Woo plans to fund at least seven more tests to bring closure in other cases.

“Hopefully we may even have a spot where we crowd fund from the local community to get enough money to solve additional cases in the future,” he said.

Mittelman said she hopes their technology can be used to solve many, many more crimes.

“We don’t want to do this in a one-by-one case basis,” she said. “We want to use this technology to clear entire backlogs, and give answers to multiple families.”

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking