Arrest made, victim ID’d in 2003 East County cold case

Local

UPDATE: In a news conference Friday, officials identified the victim as Laurie Diane Potter and announced the arrest of her husband, Jack.

SAN DIEGO — Nearly two decades after human body parts were found in a Rancho San Diego dumpster, authorities say they’ve now identified the victim and arrested a suspect believed to be responsible for their murder.

Details about the developments are expected to be shared at 1 p.m. Friday by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department. On Thursday, the department said its Homicide Unit used investigative genetic genealogy to solve the case, noting it’s the first time such technology has been used locally to identify a victim and make a subsequent arrest.

The body parts, which never were publicly identified, were found in 2003 in a dumpster at a residential complex in Rancho San Diego off Hilton Head Court.

Pete Carrillo, a retired sheriff’s department homicide detective, told FOX 5 that there’s a percentage of people who “feel comfortable they can live in the same community where they kill and they feel they’re just that good.”

“But technology is getting better and detectives are getting better,” Carrillo said. “Their time will come. There will be justice.”

Carrillo said the genetic genealogy process has become popular for the average person to discover more about their family. It also creates vital links that can be used by law enforcement.

“They may have taken samples from the remains and then frozen them for future technology,” he said. “The decades go by, the technology is just getting better and better, and we are able to take full DNA profile of minute microscopic samples.”

Cold cases are just that for a reason: years go by with more questions than answers, but Carrillo says the work never truly ends.

“Even if you have 100 cases, you prioritize them by solvability and you work with the ones with the most evidence first,” he said. “You whittle down to the very last one. You just don’t give up.”

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