Cold Case murder of Kansas woman, 20, solved 34 years later with ‘cutting-edge’ DNA technology, police say

The cold case murder of a 20-year-old Kansas woman 34 years ago was solved earlier this year using “cutting-edge” DNA technology, the Wichita Police Department announced in a Monday news conference. 

DNA evidence was collected after the Oct. 2, 1989, sexual assault and beating murder of Krista Martin, 20, but testing wasn’t available at the time, nevertheless, it was “carefully preserved,” Kris Gupilan, the public information officer with the department said.

Over the years, DNA samples were compared to potential suspects with no match found and in 2009, a suspect profile was created through the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) — but no match was found. 

In 2021, a dedicated investigative genetic genealogy team that consisted of an FBI special agent and a Wichita police homicide detective was created and this last April — with the help of private industry genealogists to scrutinize DNA profiles and getting DNA samples from his relatives — a man named Paul Hart was identified as the suspect. 

DNA FROM FAMILY MAN’S DAUGHTER EXPOSES HIM AS MYSTERY STRANGLER, POLICE SAY 

Krista Martin smiling

Krista Martin was sexually assaulted and murdered Oct. 2, 1989.  (Wichita Police Department)

“The Wichita Police Department remains steadfast in its commitment to identifying suspects in violent crimes and providing support for victims and their families,” Gupilan said. “We pledge to continue our unwavering dedication to cold case investigations.”

He said the department determined that Hart would be charged with Martin’s murder if he was still alive, but he died in a car crash in 1999. 

ROADSIDE STRANGLING VICTIM IDENTIFIED 33 YEARS LATER AS POLICE HUNT KILLER

“As he is deceased this case is now considered cleared,” Gupilan said. 

Ember Moore, Martin’s niece thanked the investigators who solved her aunt’s murder at the press conference. 

“On behalf of my family and myself I would like to say thank you to the Wichita Cold Case Unit and the Wichita Homicide Department for all their hard work and dedication to Krista’s case,” Moore said. “I am glad we can finally move forward and have peace knowing that Krista’s murderer is not walking around free or among us … She deserved so much more out of this life than what she ended up with.” 

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Police didn’t elaborate on what relationship, if any, Hart and Martin might have had, except that they were neighbors at the time of her death. 

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