DOTHAN, Ala. (AP) – A DNA match found through a genealogy website has led to an arrest in the killings of two teen girls nearly 20 years ago, Alabama authorities said.
Coley McCraney, 45, of Dothan, was arrested Saturday on rape and capital murder charges in the 1999 deaths of 17-year-olds Tracie Hawlett and J.B. Beasley, according to Dale County jail records.
The girls left Dothan the night of July 3, 1999, to attend a party, but never arrived. They were found the next day in the trunk of Beasley’s car alongside a road in Ozark, each with a gunshot wound to the head.
A different suspect was cleared after his DNA didn’t match that from semen found on Beasley.
Last year’s arrest of “Golden State Killer” suspect Joseph DeAngelo in California was a factor in prompting the small Alabama police department to send their evidence to a firm that does DNA analysis, Ozark Police Chief Marlos Walker told ABC News . After decades without any big breaks, California police identified DeAngelo as a suspect by using genealogy websites to identify potential relatives of the killer based on DNA collected at a crime scene. DeAngelo now faces more than two-dozen counts of murder and kidnapping in what prosecutors describe as a killing in spree in a half-dozen California counties in the 1970s and 1980s.
Ozark police and Dale County sheriff’s officials planned a news conference on Monday.