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Las Vegas Police: The cold 1979 murder case of a Western high school student is solved

By CAITLIN LILLY

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LAS VEGAS (KVVU) – The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department announced Monday that a cold-blooded murder from 1979 has been solved thanks to a donation from a local benefactor.

According to LVMPD Lieutenant Ray Spencer, the chilling case is that of Kim Bryant, a 16-year-old Western High School student who was kidnapped, raped and murdered.

Lieutenant Spencer said that Bryant’s mother reported her missing after she never returned home from school.

Kim Bryant’s murder was solved after Las Vegas philanthropist Justin Woo raised funds to help investigators send evidence from the case to a Texas lab, Lieutenant Spencer said.

A laboratory called Othram provides advanced DNA testing services.

“It is possible to unlock DNA clues from trace events of older or degraded DNA or evidence. Any kind of forensic evidence, and we’re the only lab in the US or Canada built just to do this,” said Othram Business Development Manager Dr Kristen Mittleman.

Most recently in 2021, the LVMPD lab ran a limited DNA test from the case with no luck. However, everything changed when they had the opportunity to bring the DNA to Othram’s lab.

Police say evidence links 19-year-old Johnny Blake Peterson as a suspect in Bryant’s death.

According to Lieutenant Spencer, Peterson also attended Western High School.

According to Lieutenant Spencer, no arrests will be made because Peterson died in 1993.

Earlier this year, it was announced that philanthropist Justin Woo had donated funds to help the department deal with the 32-year-old cold case of Stephanie Isaacson.

The lab built the killer’s genetic profile from just 15 human cells. That’s the smallest amount of DNA ever found in a criminal case, according to Othram.

“We don’t want to do this on a case-by-case basis. We want to use this technology to clear the entire backlog and get answers to multiple families,” said Mittleman.

Woo has provided about $5,000 to fund each case, and said he has assembled several others in the Las Vegas community to help pay for seven more tests that will be sent to the Texas lab.

“Hopefully we can even have a place where we raise funds from the local community to have enough money to settle additional cases in the future,” Woo said.

Othram crowdfunds to provide cutting-edge DNA testing to help solve many of the hundreds of cases they’ve supported.

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