Houston police pursue 1989 “Cold Case” murder

Crime scene tape marks off the area law enforcement investigators are working outside the house of a fatal shooting Thursday morning, Aug. 8, 2013, in DeSoto, Texas. A man has been arrested in the fatal shooting of four people in two Dallas-area homes, just minutes apart, and police are investigating if he used a grenade or other explosive in one of the attacks. Investigators arrested Erbie Bowser, 44, on Wednesday night at the second crime scene, DeSoto police Cpl. Melissa Franks said. Charges are pending, she said. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

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Houston police are attempting to use 21st century technology to solve a 1989 murder. HPD debuted a new section of its website dedicated to helping them solve several murder cases that have gone cold over the years. Investigators with the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences are looking for clues in numerous cases, most notably the 1989 murder of an unidentified young Hispanic woman.

On December 29, 1989, the body of a young Hispanic woman was found in the entrance of a Galleria-area office building. The woman was five feet, four inches tall, with dark hair and an olive complexion, and was believed to be in her early-to-mid-twenties. She was wearing a white T-shirt, black jeans, black socks and black Coasters-brand shoes. She apparently died of a close-range gunshot wound to the head.

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Police used the technology available at the time to find the woman’s identity. Detectives canvassed the area, questioned the building’s security guard, and commissioned a sketch artist to create a portrait of the woman’s face. They sent her fingerprints to local, state and federal agencies, but did not come up with a match. They pursued possible leads and set up operations to catch her suspected killer, but came up empty.

As technology evolved, investigators employed newer methods. They sent a blood sample to the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification, where their laboratories could create a DNA profile for the murder victim. As of this writing, no match has been found for either the woman or any possible relatives who share some of her genetic traits.

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Forensic anthropologist Sharon Derrick is among those leading the efforts to solve this and other cold cases throughout the Houston area. She recently expressed her confusion at the nature of this long-unsolved murder.

“Nobody claimed her,” Derrick said. “Why? That’s very odd.”

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