Posted on April 18, 2005

DNA Leads to Arrest in 1989 Rape, Strangling

Bill Montgomery, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, April 15, 2005

In the 15 years since JoAnne Hankamer, 21, was raped, beaten and strangled to death after leaving her job at a Little Five Points health food store, her mother, Barbara Kelly, has kept the faith.

“I had some very low times,” she said Thursday. “But you have to keep going, going on faith, that some day you will know what happened.”

Kelly spoke at a news conference where Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said DNA recovered from the victim in 1989 conclusively identified and led to the arrest of a 32-year-old Atlanta man in the killing. Larry Walker Jr., who was 16 when Hankamer died, was arrested Wednesday at his residence on Iverson Street by members of Howard’s Cold Case Squad. The house is just a few blocks from where Hankamer’s partially clothed body was found Dec. 14, 1989, in a wooded ravine in Candler Park, in the DeKalb County section of Atlanta.


A DNA sample taken from Walker in prison and entered into a DNA database of felons kept by the GBI was matched Tuesday to evidence in the Hankamer case, Howard said.


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After Three Years, Arrest Is Made in Death of Cape Cod Writer

Pam Belluck, New York Times, April 15, 2005

After a three-year investigation, including a dragnet attempt to collect DNA from all the men in one Cape Cod town, law enforcement authorities today announced an arrest in the highly publicized killing of a fashion writer in the winter of 2002.

Christopher A. McCowen, 33, a laborer with a history of burglary convictions and domestic violence complaints, was charged with raping and murdering Christa Worthington, a 46-year-old fashion writer who was found stabbed to death in her bungalow in Truro, a small beach community near the tip of Cape Cod.


In January, after an investigation that had turned up no culprit, police in Truro took the unusual step of asking all men in the community for DNA samples, a move that brought criticism from civil libertarians. The murder, which also spawned a best-selling book, brought widespread media attention to Ms. Worthington’s life, and led to criticism by some members of her family that investigators and the media were depicting her as leading a promiscuous life.

Mr. McCowen was first considered a possible suspect in April 2002, three months after the murder, Mr. O’Keefe said, and at that time he was asked if he would be willing to give a DNA sample. He said he would, Mr. O’Keefe said.

But for reasons that Mr. O’Keefe would not make clear at today’s news conference, it took authorities nearly two years to collect a DNA sample from Mr. McCowen even though they knew he had a lengthy criminal history in Florida involving, according to Florida records, burglary, trafficking in stolen property, grand theft and motor vehicle theft.

Then, from the time the DNA sample was taken in March 2004, it took more than a year for the state crime lab to analyze the DNA results.


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