ANCHORAGE, Alaska (TCD) -- A man was found guilty this week of sexually assaulting and killing a young woman whose body was found in an embankment 45 years ago.
The Alaska Department of Law announced Dec. 19 that a jury convicted Donald McQuade of first-degree murder in connection with the decades-old cold case death of 16-year-old Shelley Connolly. Investigators connected McQuade to Connolly's death through new genetic genealogy techniques and ancestry databases.
In early 1978, a passerby flagged down an Alaska State Police trooper near Anchorage and said they found Connolly's body at an embankment. Detectives from the then-Criminal Investigations Bureau, now called the Alaska Bureau of Investigation, took over the case. The medical examiner conducted an autopsy and determined Connolly had also been sexually assaulted.
The investigation into Connolly's death, however, eventually went cold.
In 1997, the Alaska Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory created a DNA profile of a man using evidence found at the scene, but he remained unidentified. Four years later, the DNA profile was uploaded into the Combined DNA Indexing System, (CODIS), but once again, there was no match. Then, in 2019, the DNA was sent to Parabon Nanolabs, and scientists there were able to link the evidence to McQuade.
The Alaska Department of Law said McQuade was 21 years old and lived in Alaska at the time of the killing.