Police say new DNA evidence has led to a "major break" in a 16-year-old North Texas cold case murder.
In February 1999, a fisherman discovered the body of Tami King near a bridge in the 4800 block of Pioneer Parkway in Arlington. She had been stabbed multiple times and appeared to the victim of sexual assault.
"Unfortunately, we really didn't have any active leads or much information to go on," said Lt. Chris Cook, spokesperson for the Arlington Police Department. "So the case kind of went stale and went cold."
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At the time, investigators recovered DNA from King's body that did not belong to her. They created a profile of that DNA and entered it into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), which is a national database law enforcement agencies across the country can access.
In late August, they were notified of a possible match to a Fort Worth resident named Jerry Shorts.
The alert was triggered by a DNA profile Fort Worth Police had submitted for Shorts in connection to a sexual assault case they were investigating.
"That's really what broke this case wide open," said Cook. "So once we identified who that belonged to, our detectives went to his location and attempted to interview him."
During that interview, the detectives asked Shorts for a new DNA sample to compare to the 1999 evidence, but he refused.
Not long after, on Sept. 3, Shorts committed suicide.
Arlington Police were in the process of obtaining a search warrant for his DNA and got a new sample during the autopsy process.
"It was re-examined and looked at. And this week, we did receive a correct match," said Cook. "So we do know that he was the person responsible for the murder of Tami King."
The case is now officially closed.
"[King's] family is very elated," said Cook. "We've been in contact with them. They just wanted closure. So it's brought closure to them and it's brought closure to our community."
Cook said had it not been for the good police work investigators did in 1999, the case would likely still be unsolved.
"Those crime scene investigators, those police officers and those detectives that worked that initial crime, they did their due diligence. They processed the scene professionally and with care, and they were able to upload that DNA profile into this system, which obviously 16 years later has paid off," said Cook.