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Virginia man arrested after DNA forensic advancements link him to 2 cold case murders

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Stafford County, Virginia, investigators arrested a suspect Tuesday in connection to two cold case murders that occurred in 1986 and 1989, after advancements in DNA forensics led to his identification.

The Stafford County Sheriff’s Office announced that 65-year-old Elroy Harrison was indicted on Monday on charges of first-degree murder, abduction with intent to defile and aggravated malicious wounding, in the death of 32-year-old Jacqueline Lard.

In a post on Facebook, the sheriff’s office said Lard was last seen on Nov. 14, 1986, when she was working at Mount Vernon Realty in the 300 block of Garrison Road.

The office closed at 9 p.m. that night, though Lard never made it home.

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The next morning, employees of other businesses in the area were getting ready to open for the day and discovered a scene at the realty office that indicated there was some sort of horrific struggle, the sheriff’s office said.

Both Lard and her vehicle were missing from the scene, and detectives from the sheriff’s office, with the help of the Virginia State Police Crime Scene Unit and the FBI, processed the scene and collected evidence, including blood.

On Nov. 16, 1986, two juveniles were playing in a wooded area in Woodbridge, Virginia when they discovered a body under a pile of discarded carpet. Stafford’s detectives also processed that scene, along with the FBI and Prince William detectives, and the body was identified as Jacqueline Lard.

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Elroy Harrison

Her missing vehicle was found on Dec. 18, 1986, in Fairfax County, which also presented investigators with additional evidence to process.

While investigators from all the agencies involved exhausted all the leads, none led to the identification of a suspect and the case went cold.

As forensic investigative genetic genealogy improved, Stafford County Sheriff D.P. Decatur, Jr. and Detective D.K. Wood pounced at the opportunity to use the advancements to possibly identify the killer.

Wood worked with Parabon NanoLabs, which provides DNA phenotyping, to analyze the DNA found at the crime scene, which linked the murder of Lard to the unsolved murder of Amy Baker, who was murdered in Fairfax County in 1989.

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Amy Baker

Stafford and Fairfax County investigators worked together to bring the murder suspect to justice, and on Dec., 14, 2023, they were able to get a name.

Following up on leads created by modern technology, investigators obtained a search warrant to get DNA from Harrison, and in February, the Department of Forensic Science reported the DNA was a match.

Harrison was indicted by a Stafford County grand jury on Monday, and he was arrested Tuesday.

He has since been placed in the Rappahannock Regional Jail and is being held without bond.

The Fairfax County Police Department is collaborating with prosecutors to establish charges against Harrison for Baker’s murder, as well.

According to the Fairfax Police Department, 18-year-old Baker was last seen leaving a relative’s house in Falls Church on the night of March 29, 1989. 

Her car was found on the side of Interstate 95 later that night. Amy’s body was found on March 31, 1989, in a wooded area off the same interstate.

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