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DNA testing via website helps link convicted killer to Brazos County cold case

BRYAN, Texas – There was a lot of evidence and decades of dead ends in the 1981 murder of Realtor Virginia Freeman.

She was a wife and mother of two who was stabbed and strangled while showing a home in Bryan.   

Her murder remained unsolved until a nearly 40-year-old piece of evidence. It was taken by a pathologist who clipped the victim's fingernails and put them in an envelope and saved them as evidence.

That evidence combined with newer DNA technology reaped results. First, a lab produced different images of what the killer may have looked like just from the DNA found under the victim's nails.

Then, last week came the big break when the Brazos County Sheriff's Office turned to an increasingly popular crime-fighting tool that has also become a popular pasttime for people, genealogy testing. 

Investigators said someone in their family had sent in that DNA and in one of those lines they found James Otto Earhart who lived in Brazos County at the time of the victim's death.

Earhart had already been convicted and executed for murdering a 9-year-old girl, but his son gave DNA to the sheriff's office. 

It was a match and finally a 37-year-old cold case was solved.