DNA May Be Helpful In 1978 Lyon County Murder Investigation

Date posted - July 8, 2014

Lyon County, Iowa — It’s been nearly 36 years since a decomposed body was found in a roadside ditch near the West Lyon School, but now, DNA technology is being used as a tool in the case.

The case began on October 4th, 1978, when the body of 23-year old murder victim Wilma June Nissen was found about 2-1/2 miles southwest of the West Lyon School.  Authorities believe that she was killed and placed there between February and July of that year.

Now, DNA technology is providing some assistance in the case.  Detective Jerry Birkey with the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office says that, when found, Nissen’s body was bound, and that “touch DNA” has been recovered from those bindings.

Birkey explains what “Touch DNA” is.

CODIS is the government’s Combined DNA Identification System, and Birkey says, unfortunately, the DNA recovered from Nissen’s bindings doesn’t qualify for inclusion in that system.

He says that the lab has been able to determine that the DNA found doesn’t belong to Nissen, nor to some of the officers that have worked the case.  He says, however that there are still more DNA samples of officers to be compared.  Birkey says that the DNA sample recovered and amplified has even allowed authorities to rule out a couple of persons of interest in the case.

Birkey says that authorities do have a person of interest in Nissen’s murder, and are trying to locate a potential witness, as well.

Birkey says his department is working on the case as time permits, and will continue to do so until Nissen’s killer or killers are brought to justice.  Anyone with information on this case is urged to contact the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office.

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