DNA links Conroe man executed by lethal injection in 2002 to cold case murder of 12-year-old girl 43 years ago, officials say

Cold case solved after 43 years (KPRC)

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Texas – DNA evidence has solved the cold case of a 12-year-old Montgomery County girl killed more than 40 years ago. The murderer will not have the opportunity to stand before any judge or jury, however, because he has already been put to death for another murder, according to the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office.

On Sept. 7, 1979, Lesia Michell Jackson disappeared from her neighborhood off of FM 1485 after spending a day at the neighborhood pool.  Her family contacted law enforcement and an extensive search was conducted to locate her.  The next day, Lesia’s glasses were found at an area intersection.

Days later, on Sept. 13, an oilfield worker found Lesia’s body in a heavily wooded area along a pipeline near Exxon Road.  An autopsy revealed she had been sexually assaulted and murdered. 

MCSO detectives began an extensive investigation into her death that lasted for years, and while all leads were explored, the case eventually went cold.

In May 2005, the newly created MCSO Cold Case Homicide Squad took over the investigation and, in October 2021, a new forensic technology called “M-Vac” was used to process evidence suspected to be on Leisa’s clothing.  DNA samples were retrieved from the clothing and, in April 2022, Texas Department of Public Safety Forensic Scientists were able to identify an unknown male DNA profile.  This unknown DNA profile was loaded into the FBI-managed Combined DNA Index System, called “CODIS.”

A CODIS match was found belonging to a local Conroe male named Gerald Dewight Casey.   A search for Casey revealed he was deceased, executed by lethal injection on April 18, 2002 for a capital murder committed in Montgomery County in 1989.  Additionally, on July 8, 2022, a blood sample from Casey obtained in 1989 was an exact DNA match for the evidence found by M-Vac and confirmed Casey as Lesia’s murderer.

This complex and detailed investigation spanning 43 years is the oldest cold case homicide investigated and solved by the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, officils said.

A statement released by MCSO read, in part, “The tenacity and diligence in solving this case by a dedicated team is a reminder to our public and to those who commit crimes in our communities that we will never cease our efforts to solve the hardest of cases and bring closure to traumatized families.  The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office will continue to explore future advances in technology that can assist us in solving other cases currently under investigation.”