AP NEWS

Remains found to belong to slain woman in decades-old case

November 14, 2018

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Authorities say a DNA test has confirmed that skeletal remains found in Alabama decades ago belong to a missing Louisiana woman believed to have been killed.

The Advocate reports authorities announced Tuesday that the remains belong to Mary Ann Perez, who disappeared in 1976. Mobile County Sheriff’s Office Detective J.T. Thornton says he learned of the DNA match on Monday.

He says he took a fresh look last year at the unidentified skeletal remains that had been found in an Alabama cornfield. He suspected they belonged to Perez and reached out to her family, who told him Perez had previous injuries that matched the remains’ and had items on her that were found with them. Perez’s daughter then provided a DNA sample that led to the genetic data match with the remains.

The findings have revived the possibility that a man who claimed responsibility for Perez’s slaying may be charged in her death. That man, 74-year-old David Courtney, is currently serving a life sentence in Kansas in an unrelated killing.

David Courtney and his wife, Donna, pleaded guilty in 1980 to a Wichita, Kansas, killing. Donna Courtney died shortly after being paroled in 1990. Kansas authorities have said the two also admitted to killing two people in Houston and one near New Orleans. The details of the New Orleans slaying matched those in Perez’s disappearance.

News outlets at that time reported Perez was having car trouble near a New Orleans lounge in 1976 when she was spotted by Courtney. He had been on his way to pick up his wife from her job and offered to take Perez home. They say she instead was driven to the couple’s home while rebuffing their sexual advances. Investigators said then that David Courtney then strangled her with a coat hanger and dumped her body somewhere.

Thornton says information from the Perez case will be forwarded to authorities in Louisiana and Alabama.

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Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com

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