1988 Georgia cold-case solved, killer identified through DNA test from family

Published: Sep. 6, 2022 at 6:04 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - Newly-uncovered genetic evidence helped authorities figure out who is responsible for a 1988 crime. Authorities believe it’s the first time ever that DNA technology identified both the victim and killer in a single cold case.

Stacey Chahorski was just 19 years old when she was killed. Her body was found along the highway in Dade County, not far from the Alabama-Georgia border. But for the last 33 years, investigators didn’t know much more, including the identities of her and her killer.

Decades later her family finally got some answers, in the form of new genealogy DNA testing. The technology is used to positively identify a person’s DNA.

“We are standing here today, almost 34 years later, to say we have finally identified Stacey Chahorski’s killer,” said Keri Farley, FBI Atlanta special agent in charge.

That killer is now identified as Hank Wise. Investigators say they matched a living family member’s DNA to his.

Wise was a trucker whose route crossed through the Southeast, and whose DNA was also found at the scene; Wise had a criminal history in Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina.

The GBI and FBI are glad they persisted

“I spoke to Stacy’s mother last week to let her know that we found who the killer was. And she, of course, was upset. But she was very thankful to everybody that I mentioned - and was just overwhelmed,” said Joe Montgomery, GBI special agent in charge

Wise is no longer alive. Authorities say he died in a fiery vehicle accident in 1999. But now, the family has some peace, their daughter’s killer, is no longer roaming free.

“Let this serve as a warning to every murderer, rapist, and violent offender out there. The FBI and our partners will not give up. It may take years or even decades, but we continually seek justice for victims and their families,” said Farley.