Police use DNA, genealogy to arrest suspect in 1980 killing

A Northern California man has been arrested on suspicion of raping and killing a woman four decades ago after investigators used an advanced search technique to identify the suspect through DNA of possible family members.

Phillip Lee Wilson, 71, was being held in Sacramento County jail without bail on suspicion of killing Robin Gisela Brooks, who was 20 years old when she was stabbed to death in her Rosemont apartment on April 24, 1980. He was arrested at his home on Thursday, sheriff's officials said.

The Sacramento Bee reports Brooks was last seen walking home alone after ending her night shift at a doughnut shop.

There were no immediate suspects and the case went cold until 2004 when investigators developed a DNA profile from the person who apparently cut himself during the assault.

Sgt. Micki Links, who continued to investigate the case after he retired, said detectives used genetic genealogy to link Wilson to the crime.

The same DNA search technique was used to capture the suspected Golden State Killer who committed a series of California rapes and killings from the 1970s and 1980s.

“I have been involved in this investigation for 16 years,” Links said Friday at a news conference announcing Wilson's arrest. “I’ve dreamed of this day to actually stand up here and say we’ve arrested the man responsible for this crime.”

Brooks' sister, Maria, joined the conference by video and said she hoped Wilson's arrest will give hope to other victims of unsolved crimes.

“I know Robin is smiling and saying job well done,” she said.