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Genetic Genealogy Helps Solve 1963 Colorado Murder Of Peggy Beck

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) -- In August of 1963, 16-year-old Margaret "Peggy" Beck was sexually assaulted and strangled -- and left at the Flying G Ranch near Deckers. Her murder went unsolved for more than 50 years. Now, investigators say they've identified her killer as James Raymond Taylor -- thanks to genetic genealogy.

Margaret "Peggy" Beck (credit: Jefferson County Sheriff)

In a news conference on Thursday, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office said an arrest warrant has been issued for James Raymond Taylor (born Dec. 22, 1939). Investigators have not been able to locate him.

"We have no ideas where he's at," an investigator stated.

Investigators said Taylor lived in Colorado in 1960 in the early 1960s and worked at a TV repair shop in Edgewater. It's not clear when he left Colorado. Taylor was last seen in the Las Vegas area in 1976.

There are no recent photos of Taylor available.

Investigators say Peggy was excited to go to Girl Scout counselors camp in August 1968. She'd been a scout for years but it was her first time going to camp as a counselor. On one of the last days of camp, she didn't show up for breakfast. Her tent-mate went to check on her and found Peggy's body inside.

Investigators read a statement from Peggy's family at the news conference on Thursday: "She was loving and protective of her family and we will cherish the memories we have of her forever."

This is believed to the oldest case solved using genetic genealogy. If the suspect is still alive, he would be 81 years old.

Before the news conference, investigators explained how the methodology was used in the investigation.

"In 2007, a John Doe DNA profile was created from evidence originally collected from the crime scene, and the profile was entered into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS)," the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office stated. "In June 2019, a more comprehensive profile was created and submitted for investigative genetic genealogy testing. The resulting investigation into leads gained from the testing led to the identity of Peggy's killer."

This is not the first cold case Colorado investigators have solved using genetic genealogy. Last year, the Douglas County Sheriff's Office announced the suspect in the 1980 homicide of Helene Pruszynski had been identified using genetic genealogy.

RELATED: James Curtis Clanton Arrested In 1980 Murder Of Helene Pruszynski

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