JEFFERSON COUNTY – Colorado county authorities have identified a now-deceased suspect with new DNA technology in the 1981 killing of a young woman, officials said.
Jeannie Moore, 18, disappeared Aug. 25, 1981, and her body was found five days later in Genesee Park west of Denver, KUSA-TV reported Monday.
Moore died from blows to the head, according to an autopsy report.
“Donald Perea was 23 when he kidnapped Jeannie from the area of I-70 and Harlan, sexually assaulted and killed her,” Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Shrader said.
Perea was a convicted rapist who died in 2012 from health-related issues, authorities said. He was out on bond for a sexual assault case when Moore was killed before being convicted and serving time in prison from 1982 to 1985.
The cold case was looked at in 2008 and DNA that was collected from the crime scene was uploaded to the Combined DNA Index System in 2011, but no matches were found, officials said. The case was re-evaluated in May 2019 and new technology found a match.
Perea was identified through the use of “genetic genealogy,” said Mitch Morrissey, the former Denver district attorney. The company uses this DNA technology and has solved dozens of cases across the country in the past 18 months, including at least one other in Colorado.
“I would tell you that based on the statistics in DNA, this is the guy,” Morrissey said. “This is the man who killed this victim some 40 years ago.”
Moore’s parents are no longer living, but she had six siblings, investigators said. Family was contacted upon identifying the suspect, but investigators did not specify who they spoke with.
“We would like to thank the JeffCo Sheriff’s Office for all their hard work. Jeannie Marie Moore was kind and loving in all ways. She was sincere and true in her heart and mind. She has left behind beautiful memories,” her family said in a statement.