A man was arrested Saturday in the cold case killings of two 17-year-old Alabama girls 20 years ago — one of Alabama’s highest-profile cold cases, according to reports.
Cops investigating the deaths of high school seniors Tracie Hawlett and J.B. Beasley in Ozark, Ala., got a break when DNA and a search of a public genealogy website linked Coley McCraney, 45, to the crime, local media reported.
Investigators found their bodies in the trunk of J.B.’s car on Aug. 1, 1999, a day after their families reported them missing. The girls were going to a birthday party for J.B. when they disappeared, the Dothan Eagle reported.
One of the girls was raped.
The search of the genealogy website was conducted using DNA from the crime scene, according to the paper.
The newspaper quoted Tracie’s mother as saying at a vigil on the tenth anniversary of the murders that she prayed every day law enforcement would come up with answers.
“Some days you go to work, get home and tears start. You go to sleep crying,” Carol Roberts said. “Through God’s grace and strength, we’ve come this far, and that’s what Tracie would want us to do.”
She said in 2007 that her daughter and J.B. wound up in Ozark after getting lost driving to the party, WDHN-TV reported.
“She said, ‘Mom, we’re on our way home,’” Roberts said, according to the station.
Online records show McCraney, a married Dothan, Ala., man with children, was booked into the Dale County Jail on five counts of capital murder and one count of rape.
His DNA was not on file because he had no criminal record, WSFA-TV reported.