Murderer of Michigan woman missing for 33 years identified using genealogy technology


The killer of a Michigan woman who had been missing for 33 years has been identified using genealogy technology, marking the first time science has been used to name both the victim and the perpetrator in the same case, officials announced Tuesday.

The body of Stacey Lyn Chahorski was found on December 16, 1998, about five miles from the Alabama state line on the I-59 highway in Dade County, Georgia.

Her identity was unknown for years. That changed earlier this year when she was identified using genealogy technology.

Chahorski, of Norton Shores, Michigan, was traveling across the country when she disappeared. She was reported missing by her mother in January 1989, Norton Shores police said earlier.

Stacey Lyn Chahorski, who died in 1988. (Georgia Bureau of Investment)

She would have turned 52 this year, authorities said.

Details of her death were not shared, but police said she was a murder victim.

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On Tuesday, officials in Georgia announced another breakthrough in the case: the name of her killer.

He was identified as Henry Fredrick Wise, aka Hoss Wise, a truck driver and stunt driver, Keri Farley, the special agent in charge of FBI Atlanta, said at a news conference.

Wise would have been 34 at the time of Chahorski’s murder in 1988.

Wise died in 1999 in a car accident at South Carolina’s Myrtle Beach Speedway, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said in a release. Wise burned in the crash.

Officials said Wise had a criminal history in Florida, Georgia and North Carolina, but his arrests predate the mandatory TBEN testing after the crime’s arrest.

Farley revealed that after Chahorski was identified through evidence and TBEN testing, investigators attempted to name her killer.

She said investigators had the killer’s TBEN from the crime scene, but it couldn’t be linked to a person for years.

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The FBI sent the TBEN to Othram, a private Texas lab specializing in forensic genealogy, which created a genealogy profile on June 13. With that data, the GBI began interviewing potential relatives and obtained TBEN swabs to compare to the profile and identified Wise.

“This case is critical because it is the first time we know that research genealogy has been used to identify both the victim and the killer in the same case,” Farley said.

She said that despite the breakthrough, the news “doesn’t ease the pain for Stacey’s family,” but “hopefully it answers some questions.”

Despite solving two key pieces of the case, the motive remains a mystery, Joe Montgomery, special agent in charge of GBI’s Region 1 Investigative Office, said Tuesday.

Wise worked for the Western Carolina truck company, Montgomery said.

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“That route he would take from the transportation company would have taken him through Chattanooga, Nashville and Birmingham, which would have been the direct route to where Stacey was found,” Montgomery said.

He said it is possible that Wise was behind other crimes and that his TBEN is now in the FBI’s Combined TBEN Index System. Wise lived sometimes in the Carolinas and sometimes in Florida, and he had family in Georgia.

Chahorski’s family did not attend the press conference, but Montgomery said it was “overwhelming” to tell her mother that the killer had been identified and that she is “calm” knowing he is dead.

TBEN and genealogy tests are increasingly being used to solve cold cases. Earlier this year, a cold case murder of a Washington woman was solved thanks to TBEN evidence of a cigarette butt left at the scene, also using Othram’s genealogy tests.

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