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DNA identifies Nicole Weis, 21, as cold case murder victim

The woman was living in Los Angeles in 2000 when her body was found burning in San Diego.

SAN DIEGO — A DNA match has identified a 21-year-old woman found murdered in San Diego more than two decades ago. News 8 spoke to family members who are still looking for answers in the grizzly death of Nicole Weis.

Kimberly Beach has fond memories of her little sister.

“She was a free spirit. She was very funny, fun to be around,” said Beach. “She was blonde hair, fair-skinned, freckles, just a really cute girl.”

Beach last saw her in the early 1990s, when her teenage sister ran away from home in Michigan.

“I remember going to family counseling, all of us, still just having a lot of trouble,” recalled Beach.

For decades, the family never knew what became of the missing teen.

On January 24, 2000, San Diego police officers responded to a call of a burning body off El Cajon Boulevard.

News 8 archive footage showed officers on scene in the parking lot of the College Avenue Baptist Church, off College Ave. and El Cajon Blvd.

The murder victim, a young woman, was set on fire; her hands cut off to make identification more difficult.

Detectives later released an artist's rendering of the victim but she remained unidentified for 20 years.

The break in the case came last year when Glen Stevenson – who was adopted as a child – got a DNA test to try and find his biological parents.

He uploaded his DNA profile to a genealogy website and in a matter of days, he received a call from San Diego police cold case detective Lori Adams.

“And so, it was like, 'wow, my birth father was also the father to the murder victim,'” said Stevenson.

With the help of a genetic genealogist, detectives soon identified Stevenson’s two half-sisters, one of them, Kimberly Beach, alive and well in Michigan.

“When I first talked to my half-sister Kim, we cried for about five minutes. Then, we got into, ‘Hi, how are you? Who are you?’” said Stevenson.

The other half-sister, Nicole Weis, was the murder victim at the age of 21. Her killer still has not been identified.

“That's always going to be the nagging, $64,000 question now. How did it happen? Who did it to her? Will they ever catch the person?” said Stevenson.

The victim's sister had suspected Nicole Weis might be dead.

“But I never imagined that it would be so brutal,” said Beach.

On the one hand, the results of that DNA test identified her half-brother.

“He's in New York and I'm here in Michigan.  We visited each other several times now,” said Beach.

But the DNA test also confirmed a sister lost.

“I loved her and I miss her,” said Beach. “We need to have some closure. It's just been too long.”

Police believe Weis was living in Los Angeles at the time of her death in 2000, and her body may have been transported to San Diego.

Anyone who knew Weis or has information relating to her murder was asked to call the San Diego Police Department's Homicide Unit at 619-531-2293, or anonymously using Crime Stoppers, 888-580-8477.  There is a $1,000 reward offered.

WATCH: SDPD cold case unit video of Nicole Weis homicide investigation: