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Crime & Courts

DNA may determine whether uncle killed Pennsylvania woman in 1977

DNA testing may finally prove whether a family member is guilty of the 1977 murder of a Pennsylvania woman, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

According to the paper, Shaun Ritterson, 20, was found dumped on a wooded Bucks County mountainside, stabbed five times. The corpse had been hacked up, its organs removed.

"It's important to follow through and see if he did commit this murder."

- Assistant District Attorney Matthew Weintraub

Shaun Ritterson had disappeared after a night out with friends. Her body was found two days later by a father and son who were driving by Buckingham Mountain.

The victim’s uncle, Harry Ritterson, has been a prime suspect in the case, the Inquirer reports, although the murder remains unsolved.

Harry Ritterson died of cancer last month, and now a sample of his DNA, obtained legally after his death, is being tested to see whether it matches hairs found with the victim's body.

Such a test was unavailable to investigators in 1977, Assistant District Attorney Matthew Weintraub told the paper.

If the DNA matches, it will add to the evidence, which includes witness statements about Ritterson visiting the site where the body was found while Shaun Ritterson was still missing, and reports he wanted a romantic relationship with his niece, Weintraub said, according to the Inquirer.

"It's important to follow through and see if he did commit this murder," Weintraub said. "And if he didn't, to see who did."

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