Long Island investigators have solved a 42-year-old murder case, a 20-year-old secretary who was on her way home from her job in New York City when she was raped and strangled, her body left near the Bay Shore train station.
DNA identified Herbert Rice as the likely suspect in the death of Eve Wilkowitz on March 22, 1980. Rice died of natural causes in 1991, and earlier this month, investigators obtained a warrant to exhume his body.
The took a sample of DNA from a bone, and they found a match, WABC reported.
Irene Wilkowitz, Eve’s sister, said she was braced for the worst when detectives came to her door. But Suffolk County Police Detective Jeffrey Bottari had the words she’d been waiting decades to hear, NBC News said.
“We identified the person responsible for the death of your sister, Eve,” Bottari said.
Suffolk District Attorney Raymond Tierney used similar words at a news conference Wednesday, according to WABC.
“We’ve solved the 42-year-old homicide case of Eve Wilkowitz,” Tierney said. “This was a study in persistence, in determination to work the case no matter what.”
Rice lived near the Bay Shore train station, where Eve got off the train to come home from work. He remained under the radar for years, with three convictions for minor crimes that didn’t require that he give up a DNA sample at the time.
It was Irene Wilkowitz who pushed investigators to try genetic genealogy after her son told her about how detectives tracked down the Golden State Killer, NBC said. But New York didn’t allow it. Then investigators figured out a workaround. The FBI had assisted in 1980, and they weren’t bound by New York laws. Suffolk County detectives got permission from the New York Department of Health to send DNA from the case to federal authorities.
For Irene, though, it’s bittersweet.
“She never got to fulfill her dreams,” she told WABC.
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