LAS VEGAS (AP) — Tiny bits of DNA evidence and money from a donor helped investigators identify a suspect in the 1989 rape and killing of a 14-year-old Las Vegas girl, police said Wednesday.
Darren Roy Marchand, the Las Vegas man now accused of attacking and strangling Stephanie Issacson more than 32 years ago, had been a suspect in another slaying and killed himself in 1995, police Lt. Ray Spencer told reporters.
Marchand, then 20, had been arrested in 1986 following the strangulation of 24-year-old Nanette Vanderberg of Las Vegas. He was released when the case was dismissed over a lack of evidence, Spencer said.
Marchand was identified in Stephanie’s case using fewer than 15 human cells and genome sequencing — the type of testing that led to the arrest in 2018 of Joseph James DeAngelo in California’s Golden State Killer case, officials said.
Kimberly Murga, head of the Las Vegas police forensics lab, told reporters that DNA testing was done multiple times in Stephanie’s case. Older DNA technology was used in 1998, and a DNA profile was obtained from evidence found on her shirt in 2007.
The latest testing by a Texas lab was funded by entrepreneur and philanthropist Justin Woo, with a donation earmarked for helping solve homicide cases with little DNA evidence.
Stephanie’s father reported her missing after she failed to arrive home from Eldorado High School. Her backpack and belongings were found that night near her body in a desert lot off a path she walked to school, Spencer said.
Spencer read a statement from Stephanie’s mother, who was not identified.
“I’m glad they found who murdered my daughter,” the statement said. “We never believed the case would be solved. It’s good to have some closure, but there is no justice for Stephanie at all. We will never have complete closure because nothing will ever bring my daughter back to us.”