A man who had raped and killed a woman 42 years ago in New York has finally been identified with the help of new DNA technology used by Suffolk County police. However, the man has died of cancer in 1991.

The victim, named Eve Wilkowitz, was on her way home to Bay Shore, in New York when the incident took place in 1980. The killer has been identified as Herbert Rice, who was 29 at the time of the crime. He used to live near the place where the victim's body was discovered.

He had been convicted for minor crimes in three separate incidents before he finally killed Wilkowitz. The police were unable to trace him then as they did not have his DNA sample in the criminal database.

According to Suffolk County police, genetic genealogy technique was used to find the culprit. "We've solved the 42-year-old homicide case of Eve Wilkowitz. This was a study in persistence, in determination to work the case no matter what," said Suffolk District Attorney Raymond Tierney.

It was Eve Wilkowitz's sister Irene Wilkowitz who made it possible for the police to find the man. She found out about genetic genealogy in 2018 and ran from pillar to post to ensure that the police use the technology to identify her sister's killer.

The state and the FBI then worked together and were finally able to identify a possible suspect in July 2021, wrote The Mirror.

The investigators were able to establish a match by first taking samples from the remains of one of his relatives whose body was exhumed for the purpose. The investigators then exhumed Rice's body and found out that he had committed the heinous crime.

"I still can't believe I heard those words, 'We have identified the person responsible for the death of Eve,'" said her sister Irene. "I've lived these last 42 years afraid all the time that I was going to be killed next," she added.

Crime Scene police line
Crime scene police line | Representational Image Photo: GETTY IMAGES / SCOTT OLSON