NEW YORK – A DNA match has created a puzzling new turn in a prominent unsolved killing, linking crime-scene evidence from a drama student's 2004 death to a chain collected after a protest that claimed affiliation with Occupy Wall Street this spring, a law enforcement official said Tuesday.
A database of DNA samples recently matched DNA on the chain to material on a compact disc player found near Sarah Fox's body, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the official wasn't authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation.
But the DNA hasn't been matched to any person, and it remains to be seen what authorities will be able to make of the unexpected find — and what it might mean for a longtime suspect who has never been charged.
NBC 4 New York first reported the DNA match.
Fox, 21, was on a semester off from her studies at The Juilliard School when she vanished after setting out to go running in an upper Manhattan park on May 19, 2004. Her disappearance spurred a search that involved 260 police recruits, as well as volunteers, and thousands of dollars were offered as a reward for information.
Her body was found after six days in the park, with her clothing gone and her larynx fractured. Her CD player was about 100 feet away.
Police questioned a resident of the neighborhood near the park, Dimitry Sheinman, and he surprised them by saying he had "visions" about Fox that could help the investigation. Former Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau pronounced Sheinman the "No. 1 suspect," but Sheinman was never charged. He has denied any wrongdoing. No contact information for him could immediately be found.
The chain was used to hold open an emergency exit gate during a protest this March 28 at a Brooklyn subway station. Aiming to draw attention to transit issues by giving passengers free rides, the demonstrators opened exits at various subway stations. A statement described many of the participants as members of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
An Occupy representative didn't immediately respond to an email message late Tuesday.
It wasn't immediately clear who might have provided or touched the chain.
Law-enforcement DNA databases have numerous samples collected from various pieces of evidence but never identified with a particular suspect. Matches periodically pop up as new samples are entered.
Follow Jennifer Peltz at http://twitter.com/jennpeltz