Authorities Identify Serial Killer Victim Using Genealogical Database


She is no longer “Horseshoe Harriet”.

Thirty-seven years after the discovery of the remains of a young woman, she has been identified as Robin Pelkey, authorities said Friday morning. Pelkey, who was born in 1963 in Colorado, was the victim of convicted serial killer Robert Hansen, according to the Alaska Department of Public Safety.

Hansen, who in the early 1980s kidnapped, hunted and killed women in the wilderness near Anchorage, died in 2014 at the age of 75, as reported by The Washington Post. Pelkey ​​was 19 at the time of his death, according to the Alaska Department of Public Safety. The ministry purchased a new headstone identifying Pelkey’s grave at the Anchorage Memorial Park cemetery.

“I want to thank all of the soldiers, investigators and analysts who have worked diligently on this case for the past 37 years. Without their hard work and tenacity, Ms. Pelkey’s identity might never have been known, ”Alaska Department of Public Safety Commissioner James Cockrell said in a press release. . “The Alaska Department of Public Safety will go out of its way to solve major crimes in our state, hold anyone responsible for breaking our laws, and end a victim’s family.”

Hansen, who was arrested in October 1983, initially pleaded guilty to four murders and several other crimes, according to the Alaska Department of Public Safety. He eventually admitted to murdering 17 women.

The Alaska Bureau of Investigation Cold Case Investigation Unit recently launched an attempt to identify Pelkey’s remains, according to the Department of Public Safety. In August, a new DNA profile for Pelkey ​​was generated, uploaded to a publicly accessible genealogical database, and yielded several matches that helped build a family tree for the then unidentified victim.

Research by Parabon Nanolabs and ABI suggested the victim could be Pelkey, according to the Alaska Department of Public Safety. Additional research showed Pelkey ​​had relatives living in Alaska and Arkansas, and records showed Pelkey ​​was living in Anchorage at the time of the Hansen murders.

ABI has contacted Arkansas State Police for help, according to the Department of Public Safety. In Arkansas, police contacted a “very close” relative of Pelkey ​​and obtained a DNA sample which was then sent to the Alaska State Scientific Crime Lab in Anchorage. DNA analysis confirmed that “Horseshoe Harriet” was Pelkey.

Pelkey’s family have asked not to be contacted directly following the news, according to the Department of Public Safety.

One of Hansen’s victims, known colloquially as “Eklutna Annie,” whom authorities believe to be Hansen’s first victim, has still not been identified, the ministry spokesman told the Empire. of Alaska Public Safety Austin McDaniel.

He said ABI is also using genetic genealogy to try to identify his remains.

Of the 17 women Hansen admitted to killing, 12 bodies were found, five were not found and four other women attacked by Hansen survived, McDaniel said. He said there were no active search efforts to find the five bodies not yet found, but if further evidence or information reaches ABI or the Alaska State Troopers, “further search efforts may be launched at that time “.

Contact Ben Hohenstatt at 907-308-4895 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt

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