Wet vacuum DNA collection used in cold case murder at Torrey Pin - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Wet vacuum DNA collection used in cold case murder at Torrey Pines

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - Cold case detectives have the results back from new DNA testing in the 1978 murder of a teenage girl on Torrey Pines beach.

Even though the murder has remained unsolved for 38 years, San Diego police detectives were hoping for a break using wet vacuum DNA collection technology.

The device detectives used is called M-Vac. It uses wet vacuum technology that is particularly effective in finding DNA on rocks.

The murder victim, Barbara Nantais, 15, was sexually assaulted and strangled to death on the morning of August 13, 1978. Her boyfriend, Jim Alt, survived the attack after being smashed in the head with a rock.

Forensic expert Suzanna Ryan demonstrated the M-Vac for CBS News 8 inside her Carlsbad lab.

She vacuumed a sample rock with the device and collected the liquid inside a bottle. Then, the tiny DNA cells were filtered away.

“So the liquid is going to drain through and we expect that the DNA is going to remain on top of the filter,” said Ryan.

CBS News 8 has learned the recent DNA testing is now complete on the rock from the murder scene at Torrey Pines. Unfortunately, the only DNA detectives found on the rock was the victim's own blood.

“With this particular rock what they're looking for is that potential foreign DNA or the non-victim DNA on the rock,” said Ryan.

“If we're looking for touch or skin cell DNA then that would have a tendency to degrade more quickly than, say, a blood stain or some sort of body fluid,” she said.

Earlier testing on a sleeping bag found at the crime scene revealed two unknown DNA samples from an unidentified male and female. Those samples have been entered into CODIS, a national law enforcement DNA database.

So far, there have been no hits that would identify the killer.

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