DNA led authorities to make an arrest in the 1999 killings of two teenagers in Alabama, authorities said Monday. Tracie Hawlett and J.B. Beasley of Dothan, both 17, were killed after getting lost in Ozark on July 31, 1999, while headed to a birthday party.
Their bodies were found in the trunk of Beasley's car the next day. Both girls had been shot in the head.
The big break came, say authorities, after a suspect's relative uploaded DNA to a genealogy website. Police were able to establish a match, then identified Coley McCraney, 45, as the suspect, investigators said. Alabama attorney general Steve Marshall said McCraney had no previous criminal record, so his DNA would not have matched samples on file in the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) run by the FBI. McCraney was charged with capital murder and rape. "This is a joyous time," Ozark police chief Marlos Walker said, announcing the arrest. "To the family: we thank y'all for your patience with law enforcement. We know it's been a tough road."
"Today, all who have sought justice for Tracie Hawlett and J.B. Beasley—including all the residents of the Wiregrass—are finally near closure in this long and painful case," Marshall said.
District Attorney Kirke Adams said he would seek the death penalty. McCraney was being held without bond in the Dale County Jail.