COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The cold case rape and murder of a young mother has been solved 21 years after her body was found wrapped in plastic and dumped in a stairwell.
Jennifer Watkins was reported missing on November 6, 1999 when she did not pick up her children after her shift at Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs, 9News reported.
Hairs, fibres and semen were found on the plastic used to wrap her body in, which has now been linked to hospital maintenance worker Ricky Severt.
Watkins, 23, was working as a dietary aide at the hospital. She got the job two weeks before her death, Fox News reported.
Watkins disappeared before the end of her shift, according to reports. Days later, police found her body in the stairwell wrapped in plastic and bound with duct tape. Police said she had been raped.
On Wednesday, Colorado Springs Police Department cold case detectives announced a breakthrough. They said DNA from the crime scene uploaded to a public genealogy website led to the identification of Severt as the woman’s killer.
But Severt, who worked at Memorial in the maintenance department at the time of the murder, won’t answer for the crime.
In 2001, he was killed in a head-on traffic collision near Colorado Springs at the age of 31, according to reports.
Detectives initially interviewed Severt, but he denied ever seeing Watkins on the day her of disappearance. However, DNA from his surviving family members has satisfied investigators that he was the killer, 9News reported.
“After all these years, we are grateful to finally give Jennifer Watkins’ family the answers they deserve,” Colorado Springs Police Chief Vince Niski said in a statement.
He said the cold case detectives who worked the case never for a “moment did they ever lose sight of what was most important: finding the truth for the Watkins’ family.”
Fox 31 Colorado Springs reported that Watkins’ husband was considered a potential suspect, but police said they ruled him out as the investigation continued. He was interviewed several times and fully cooperated.