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Friday, March 31, 2023

DNA technology brings end to 40-year-old Florida cold case mystery

Over 40 years passed while the remains remained unidentified.

But Margaret Johns finally got the information she had been waiting for in July 2021.

Theresa Caroline Fillingim was identified as the third of four victims found in April 1981 from what neighbors called a “home of horrors” by Hernando County Sheriff’s deputies, with assistance from the University of North Texas and Virginia-based DNA testing business Parabon Nano Labs.

In this episode of To The Point Already, Bay News 9 anchors Rick Elmhorst and Roy De Jesus discuss DNA technology and how diligent research and family history were able to identify bones found in a Spring Hill garden more than 40 years ago.

When Johns thought back on her sister, she stated, “She was just a typical child.” “She was the family’s infant. She was never heard from again. She just vanished off the face of the planet.”

Billy Mansfield, Jr. was the last person Fillingim met before heading to a job interview.

Mansfield, a serial murderer, child molester, and sex offender, killed five women and girls between 1975 and 1980. He’s still in a California jail at age 66.

When Mansfield murdered Rene Sailing in California in 1980, he was already facing charges for abuse, abduction, and sexual assault. Due of the publicity surrounding that case, a tip-off source asked Hernando County authorities to examine Mansfield’s residence.

According to Hernando County Sheriff’s authorities, the backyard remains were transferred to many laboratories over the years, but it wasn’t until 2020 that detectives obtained a DNA profile. Without success, the sample was forwarded to UNT in an attempt to find a match in a national database.

According to Hernando County cold case investigator George Loydgren, who worked on the case, “the case is more than 40 years old.” “Bones age and DNA deteriorates. Creating a strong profile is really challenging. We were really lucky to have a sufficient DNA profile.”

This year, they made another attempt, according to authorities, utilizing Parabon’s “Snapshot DNA Phenotyping” service, which generates a description of the victim rather than looking for a genetic match.

Building family trees to look for and find shared ancestors took CeCe Moore, the Chief Genetic Genealogist at Parabon Nanolabs, roughly ten hours.

The identification of Fillingim was established by a DNA sample from Johns.

“I’m helping this individual reclaim their dignity,” Moore said of identifying cold case victims. Although the ending was terrible and heartbreaking, the family may now find closure thanks to these answers.

Cedric Blackwater
Cedric Blackwater
Cedric is a journalist with over a decade of experience reporting on local US news, and touching on many global topics. He is currently the lead writer for Bulletin News.

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