Sorenson Forensics has solved cold homicide cases worldwide, but its most impressive results have been at home in Utah.
Anna Palmer, 1998
10-year-old Palmer’s mother found her dying on their Salt Lake City front porch, beaten and stabbed so viciously that one of the thrusts severed her spinal cord. In 2010, Sorenson Forensics analyzed particles of flesh found under Palmer’s fingernails that had been preserved from the original investigation. The lab got a DNA “hit” with Matthew Breck, serving a 10-year sentence in Idaho for sexual assault of a child who had lived in Palmer’s neighborhood at the time of her murder.
Lela Rockwell, 1989
Rockwell, a 62-year-old homeless woman, was found raped and strangled under an overpass in Salt Lake City. In 2010, Sorenson Forensics’ analysis of preserved DNA linked the crime to Jose Ortiz-Garcia, who was serving time in a federal prison in South Carolina.
Barbara Jean Rocky, 1974
The 21-year-old BYU student was found shot in Little Cottonwood Canyon. In 2007, armed with DNA evidence extracted from soil preserved from the crime scene for 33 years, police arrested Gerald Walter Hicker, 56, in Tacoma, Wash., for Rocky’s murder.
Karin Strom, 1980
Strom was strangled, but tissue under her fingernails yielded usable DNA samples in 2007 and lead police to her killer Edward Lewis Owens, 56.
Tara Brennan, 2004
Brennan, 28, was found strangled and stabbed in Poplar Grove Park. New DNA analysis in 2007 led investigators to her attacker Michael Jones, 43, of Sandy.
Cathy Cobb, 2004
Cathy Cobb was found dead of strangulation. Police used Sorenson Forensics’ DNA analysis in 2007 to make an arrest and convict Michael Waddell Johnson, 65.
Tiffany Hambleton, 1986
14-year-old Tiffany Hambleton was found stabbed to death on Salt Lake City’s west side. DNA analysis in 2007 led police to Dan Peterson, 44, of Glendale. Despite the DNA evidence, a jury failed to convict Peterson, who admitted he had sex with the 14-year-old but claimed he did not kill her.