By Karen Morfitt
AURORA, Colo. (CBS4)– More than 30 years after a triple murder that left investigators with very few clues, new technology could give detectives the break they need to solve the cold case.
In 1984, Bruce Bennett, his wife Debra and their 7-year-old daughter Melissa were found beaten to death with a hammer inside their home in Aurora.
Their 3-year-old daughter Vanessa was severely injured but survived the attack. She spoke with CBS4 10 years later.
“Every time somebody asks me what happened to my face, that’s every time I think about it which is almost every day. I tell them I got hit with a hammer and that’s it,” said Vanessa.
Cold Case Detective Steve Conner was working as a patrol officer at the time of the murders and assigned to secure the scene.
“This case has never really been put on the shelf completely, someone has always been poking at it… probably because it was such a horrific case,” said Conner.
For years, investigators have worked and re-worked evidence found at the scene.
It was Conner who first considered using new technology known as DNA Phenotyping, the process of predicting physical appearance and ancestry from unidentified DNA evidence.
“With this they have okay background on the case and now they can put some kind of face to the person we’re looking for,” said Conner.
The result of that testing was an image of what the suspect might have looked like in 1984 around 25 years old. It also produced a second age enhanced photo of what the suspect could look like now.
The image combines traits like eye and hair color, face shape and ancestry to predict a person’s appearance even decades later.
Conner said he is hopeful the image will prompt new leads in a case that may have gone cold but is far from forgotten.
Anyone who may be able to provide information on the unsolved homicide investigation, you are encouraged to contact Det. Steve Conner with the homicide unit Cold Case squad at 303.739.6190 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Karen Morfitt Joined the CBS4 team as a reporter in 2013. She covers a variety of stories in and around metro Denver. Connect with her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @karenmorfitt or email her tips.