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Colorado Springs police use DNA technology to further cold case investigation

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The Colorado Springs Police Department is looking to DNA technology and the public's help in solving an 18-year-old cold case. The body of Jennifer Lee Watkins, 23, was found in the hospital she worked at, three days after she was reported missing on November 5, 1999.

Friday, a composite image of a person of interest that was constructed from a DNA sample was released by the department.

Officers discovered Watkins with blunt force trauma to the head. Watkins worked at Memorial Hospital on Boulder Street, where she was in the hospital food service aide department. Coworkers say they saw Watkins various times throughout the day on November 5. Her husband reported her missing that night after she didn't pick up her two kids after work.

Three days later, a maintenance worker found Watkins' body under a secluded stairwell in a part of the hospital that was under construction. 

Co-workers, associates, friends and family members were interviewed several times. Numerous items of forensic were recovered from the scene, but no chargeable suspects have been identified.

The investigation into Watkins' murder remains open and active.

CSPD has recently sought out the services from Parabon NanoLabs, a DNA technology company that specializes in DNA phenotyping, the process of predicting physical appearance and ancestry from unidentified DNA evidence. 

A snapshot showing predicted traits for the person of interest (pictured below) was presented to CSPD. Using DNA evidence from the investigation, the snapshot predicts the suspect's ancestry, eye color, hair color, skin color, freckling and face shape. 

The photo produced depicts a 25-year-old male with an average body-mass index. 

*Please note the snapshot composite is a scientific approximation of appearance based on DNA and is not likely to be an exact replica of the appearance. 

Environmental factors such as smoking, drinking, diet, and other non-environmental factors like - facial hair, hairstyle, scars, etc. – cannot be predicted by DNA analysis.

If you have any information on the investigation, please contact 719-444-7613, or email CSPDColdCase@springsgov.com.


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