What to Know
- Vanessa Marcotte was killed on Aug. 7 when she went for a jog while visiting her family in Princeton, Mass.
- Her body, which investigators say was naked and partially burned, was found in a remote and wooded area about a half mile away.
- Worcester District Attorney Joseph Early said the DNA profile shows the person of interest is an athletic, light-skinned male and about 30.
Authorities in Massachusetts say they have the DNA profile of a person of interest in their ongoing investigation into the murder of a 27-year-old woman who was killed while on a jog.
Worcester District Attorney Joseph Early said the DNA profile shows the person of interest is an athletic, light-skinned male and about 30 years old. He would have had scratches on his body following Vanessa Marcotte's Aug. 7 murder.
The person of interest is also Hispanic and had a shaved head based on witness descriptions, according to Early.
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The DNA in question was entered into national criminal databases; however, investigators didn't get a hit and Early didn't have a name. State police have also ruled out some people as suspects.
"We want to do everything to find this killer," Early said, later adding, "It takes a little while. This isn't CSI, this isn't Law & Order. As much as we'd like to get things back in a couple of hours, it takes some time."
The description was generated by Parabon NanoLabs, based in Virginia. Since 2014, police around the country have been utilizing their technology, known as Snapshot, to create composite sketches with small samples of DNA.
"It's not for identification. It's for prioritizing," said Dr. Ellen McRae Greytak, director of the program.
Their descriptions, which can vary on the quality of the DNA sample, potentially allow police to zero in on one suspect, as opposed to many.
"It allows that investigator to then go back to that suspect list and say, 'OK, I can eliminate a lot of people who don't match this profile,'" Greytak explained, "Now, maybe they can make progress on their cases where they couldn't before."
According to Greytak, they always produce an image of the person they have tested. However, investigators in Princeton did not release one Thursday.
Police previously announced they were also searching for a dark SUV that had been parked on the side of the road where she was last seen in connection with her slaying.
Marcotte, a New York City resident, was in Princeton visiting her family that fateful weekend when she went on a jog, but never returned. Her body, which investigators say was naked and partially burned, was found in a remote and wooded area about a half mile away later that evening. Authorities say there were also signs she had struggled with her attacker.
Investigators said they've received more than 1,300 tips to a dedicated tip line.
Meanwhile, her family spoke out days before Christmas 2016, thanking the public for supporting them and announcing they had started a foundation in Marcotte's name that encourages her values of "giving back and volunteerism."
"Not a day goes by that we don't reflect on the enormity of her loss," Marcotte's uncle, Steven Therrien, said while reading a statement.
Marcotte's slaying came five days after a woman in Queens was murdered while on a run. Police have arrested 20-year-old Chanel Lewis after matching his DNA to samples found on 30-year-old Karina Vetrano, whom authorities said "ferociously" fought her attacker. However, police in New York and Massachusetts have added there is nothing connecting the Queens case to the case in Princeton.
Her murder also put residents and fellow joggers in the sleepy community of Princeton on edge.
"It's a scary thing to think about," Natasha Spears told necn in August. "Thinking that you can't even be safe running a one-mile or a five-mile run."