A 25-year-old cold case was solved after familial DNA testing provided investigators with key information that solved the rape and murder of an 84-year-old woman in her San Diego home, authorities announced Friday.
Angela Kleinsorge died from multiple stab wounds to the neck. At the time of the crime in February 1992, regular DNA testing did not match any individuals in a statewide offender database, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said.
Last July, the case was submitted by the San Diego Police Department and District Attorney’s Office to the Department of Justice with a request for familial DNA testing.
Familial DNA searches allow investigators to search offender databases with wider parameters, identifying people who are likely to be close relatives of the person who may have committed a crime.
The familial DNA results from Kleinsorge’s murder matched a convicted offender who was deceased. However, the familial DNA typing results showed there was a high likelihood that Kleinsorge’s murderer was a brother of that deceased convict.
It was determined through further investigation there was one living brother and another brother who was killed in a 2006 motorcycle crash in San Diego County.
San Diego police investigators were able to obtain DNA samples from the living brother and he was eliminated as a suspect. San Diego police Lab Criminalist Adam Dutra received tissue samples from the medical examiner from the other brother, Jeffrey Falls, who was killed in the motorcycle crash at age 42.
The crime lab was able to obtain a partial DNA profile from the deceased suspect’s tissue that matched the crime scene sample, pointing to Falls as the killer.
The likelihood ratio of kinship between the crime scene sample and Falls is in the quadrillions, further evidence that investigators had solved the case.
“The results of this testing has brought a measure of closure to the victim’s family more than two decades after her murder,” Dumanis said. “While familial DNA testing remains fairly rare in the U.S., this is an excellent example of how law enforcement can use science as a way to propel an investigation forward and solve more crimes.”
Angela Kleinsorge’s daughter, Hedy, said the case being solved means “Mister Falls no longer thinks he got away with my mom’s rape and murder.”
Hedy Kleinsorge said Falls lived across the street from their family home. California has solved several cases using familial searching, including the so-called Grim Sleeper case in Los Angeles. A serial killer preyed on vulnerable women and eluded identification for decades until investigators matched crime scene DNA to the killer’s son, whose DNA was in an offender database.
— City News Service