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DNA testing, genealogy tools help solve 1980 cold case murder of Chicago man

A burned body found 42 years ago near I-80 in northwestern Pennsylvania has been identified as an 18-year-old Chicago man who went missing in the fall of 1980.

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WOLF CREEK, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania state police say they have solved the slaying of a Chicago man whose burning body was found 42 years ago near Interstate 80 in a northwestern town.

Edwin Rodriguez was identified through the use of DNA testing and genealogy tools, authorities announced Wednesday.

Rodriguez was 18 when he and a family friend, Nestor Quintanal, left Chicago for Florida in the fall of 1980, and Rodriguez’s family never heard from him again. His burning body was found Nov. 6, 1980, near Interstate 80 in Wolf Creek.

Authorities said Quintanal — who died in Florida in 2002 at the age of 71 — is believed to have killed Rodriguez, who had third-degree burns on 70% of his body. A possible motive for the killing was not disclosed.

The Mercer County District Attorney's office paid for state police to have an advanced DNA analysis performed, and in 2007 the office secured a DNA profile of the victim through evidence collected at the autopsy. In January 2019, the profile was sent to a lab for DNA phenotype testing and a genetic genealogy screening.

The testing linked the body to a first cousin of Rodriguez, authorities said. Police reached out to the individual, who was able to confirm the victim was Rodriguez. His remains have since been returned to his family in Chicago.

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