Murderers Can Run But They Can’t Hide From Their Forensic DNA Genealogy
Play • 33 min

14-year Stephanie Anne Isaacson left her father’s apartment in North Las Vegas on the early morning of June 1, 1989.

She walked through an empty sandlot, her usual shortcut, to the Eldorado High School.

The ninth grader never made it to her 7:30 AM class at Eldorado High School.

Later that evening, officers found her body under a piece of discarded carpet in a sandlot that Isaacson used to take a shortcut to school.

Stephanie was the victim of a blitz attack. Her black shirt was pulled up, and her jeans pulled down. Her shoes and other belongings were missing.


The freshman with shoulder-length brown hair who had last been pictured with a wide grin in her prom picture had been sexually assaulted, bludgeoned, and strangled to death. 

Investigators had little to go on besides a tiny drop of semen found on the dead girl's shirt.

They made numerous attempts to test the evidence but could not identify the killer.

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police investigators never gave up.

In late 2021, they submitted a DNA sample of a mere 15 human cells to Othram, a forensic genealogy lab located in the Woodlands, a suburb of Houston.

Othram’s DNA extraction technology found a relative of the alleged killer in a genealogy database that law enforcement has the consent to search.

Forensic genealogy led Las Vegas detectives to Darren Marchand, who had never been listed among suspects.

But Marchand had committed suicide at the age of 29, six years after the murder.

Issacson’s 32-year  case represents the tip of the iceberg of a silent mass disaster–a quarter million cold cases languishing across the United States.

But as we say in Texas, there is a new sheriff in town in the form of a DNA lab built to solve cold cases.

Investigative Reporter Robert Riggs takes listeners of the True Crime Reporter® podcast inside Othram’s facility near Houston to find out how its trailblazing technology solves cases once thought to be unsolvable. 

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