Greeley Tribune (Colorado)

Weld County, CO

Dec. 8 -- There's a reason there is no statute of limitations on murder cases, and we saw it last week in Weld County.

An arrest was made in the murder of Mary Pierce, who was kidnapped from a 7-Eleven store in 1977, raped and murdered, her body left in a cornfield west of Greeley.

More than 30 years later, DNA samples taken from the smock Pierce wore at the time she was murdered were matched to Marcello Maldonado-Perez, 51, a Florida resident who was in Greeley at the time of the murder.

Maldonado-Perez did not fight extradition and is awaiting court proceedings in Greeley.

This arrest never would have happened without the diligence of the Weld County Sheriff's Office, and especially investigator Jan Lemay, who sent Pierce's clothing to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation for testing in 2003, and detective Vicki Harbert, who also sent semen samples to be tested in 2006.

Without investigators willing to take the time and effort to review and work on these cold cases, there would be no resolution, no arrests, no closure for the victims' families. We appreciate the good police work in this case and know it is directly connected to the arrest of the suspect.

Technology, of course, is the other investigative tool that is greatly assisting in solving cold cases. Advances in DNA testing, the creation of national databases and other high-tech investigative tools are making it easier for investigators to link suspects and victims.

Some may criticize the amount of time and money spent on keeping murder investigations open and active. It does take resources to continue analyzing and working these cases.

But we think the arrest in the Pierce case shows this effort is well worth it. If a potential murderer is brought to justice, if a dangerous person is taken off the streets, than that is what justice is all about.

There are more than a dozen unsolved murders in Weld County, but two have had recent arrests and criminal proceedings are pending. If anything, that proves there is hope for these other cases.

We thank our local law enforcement agencies for remembering these murder victims and looking for new or overlooked information that may break the case. We think it is time and money well spent.

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International Association for Property and Evidence
"Law Enforcement Serving the Needs of Law Enforcement"