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SBSD - Headquarters
Wednesday April 3rd, 2024 :: 01:38 p.m. PDT


Victim in 1979 Homicide Cold Case is Identified by Forensic DNA Testing: Homicide Investigation Continues

DATE/TIME: June 7, 1979 / 12:20 p.m.


LOCATION: 8th Street and Rochester Avenue, Rancho Cucamonga

SUSPECT(S): Unknown

VICTIM: Karen Marie Heverly, 17 Years old, Resident of Jersey Shore, PA

SUMMARY: On June 7, 1979, the reporting party (RP) was employed as a vineyard worker in the vineyards, located near 8th Street and Rochester Avenue, in Rancho Cucamonga. At approximately 12:20 p.m., the RP discovered a deceased body inside the vineyards. Homicide investigators responded to the scene and found the body appeared to be a white female, between the ages of 18 and 30 years old, with shoulder length light brown hair and brown eyes. The identity of the body was unknown, and no identifying marks, scars, or tattoos were noted. The victim was found to have sustained traumatic injuries and the manner of death was determined to be a homicide. Investigators exhausted all leads attempting to identify the victim and the case went cold.  

In 2023, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department’s Cold Case Homicide Team, with the assistance of the San Bernardino County Coroner Division, reopened the investigation in hopes of identifying the victim. DNA samples collected from the victim were sent to Othram Inc. for forensic processing. Othram Inc. is a company that provides technology and solutions for forensic DNA testing and identification, including human ID from forensic evidence. Othram Inc. scientists developed a suitable DNA extract and used Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing to build a comprehensive DNA profile. Othram’s in-house forensic genetic genealogy team used the profile in a genealogical search to produce investigative leads. 

The Sheriff’s Cold Case Homicide Team and the Sheriff’s Coroner Division conducted follow up with the leads provided by Othram Inc. and positively identified the victim as Karen Marie Heverly. Heverly was born January 27, 1962, and was originally from Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania. Heverly left her parents’ home in 1979 under unknown circumstances at the age of 16 years old. The investigation remains active. Anyone with information about this case is asked to contact Detective Justin Carty or Sergeant Justin Giles at the Specialized Investigations Division at (909) 890-4904. Callers can remain anonymous and contact We-Tip at 800-78CRIME or

Funding for the advanced DNA testing and forensic genetic genealogy used in this case was provided by Roads to Justice after the case was selected for submission by NamUs, a national clearinghouse that assists the criminal justice community with the investigation and resolution of the missing, unidentified, and unclaimed persons cases across the United States and its territories. NamUs is funded and administered by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and is managed through a contract with Research Triangle Institute International. We are thankful for the support from Othram Inc., Roads to Justice, RTI, NamUs, and the NIJ.  

Refer: Detective Justin Carty or Sergeant Justin Giles

Station: Specialized Investigations Division

Phone No. (909) 890-4904

Case No. DR# 985692-11 / H#1979-260

SHANNON D. DICUS, Sheriff-Coroner
San Bernardino County Sheriff-Coroner Department

SBSD - Headquarters
655 E 3rd St
San Bernardino, CA 92408

Emergency: 9-1-1
Non-emergencies: 909-387-3700

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