For 44 years, more than 100 Pennsylvania State Police investigators worked tirelessly to solve the murder of a young, unidentified pregnant female they called Beth Doe.
From the original investigator to the now-retired Cpls. who pushed for DNA testing, to the troopers who arrested the alleged killer. All played a vital role.
Fast forward to March 2021. Suddenly the pieces of this decades-old puzzle started to fall into place. Thanks to forensic genealogy, investigators now know 'Beth Doe' was 15-year-old Evelyn Colon of Jersey City, New Jersey. Colon was strangled, shot, and dismembered allegedly by her then 19-year-old boyfriend, Luis Sierra, of Ozone Park, New York.
"He was the last person to have been with Evelyn as they were living in an apartment in Jersey City in 1976," said Lt. Devon Brutosky, Troop N criminal investigation section commander.
Troopers, past and present, came together at a news conference at Lehighton Park Wednesday. They thanked the multiple agencies that played a part in solving the case, including the labs that examined the remains of the young mother and her full-term daughter: DNA Labs International of Florida, University of North Texas and NamUS, and Othram Inc. of Texas.
Earlier this year, Othram enhanced Beth Doe's DNA profile and uploaded it to a public DNA database. In late March they made the connection to the victim's nephew, Luis Colon Jr., who, according to his family, had uploaded his profile to a public DNA database with the hope of finding his aunt, Evelyn. Colon put investigators in contact with his father, Evelyn's older brother, who now lives in Stroudsburg, PA.
"We're elated that we can bring this to a conclusion," Brutosky said.
Investigators are not releasing many details about the case or their suspect. Sierra, a bus driver, now 63, was extradited to Pennsylvania on April 13. He's being held without bail at the Carbon County Correctional facility in Nesquehoning.
Despite an arrest in the case, investigators are still looking for information about Sierra, who was 19 when he allegedly killed Evelyn Colon. The mutilated remains of the 15-year-old from Jersey City and her full-term daughter were stuffed in three suitcases found along the banks of the Lehigh River in Carbon County, PA, on December 20, 1976. Her family never reported her missing.
Investigators are asking the public to call the tip-line if they knew Sierra back in the 1970's. Sierra, according to PSP, was a student at James Ferris High School in Jersey City, New Jersey.
If you have information that could help Pennsylvania State Police, please call the tip line: 1-800-4PA-TIPS. Reference Case No. 1956.
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Claudia Rivero Investigative Reporter/Producer