In November 1999, Jennifer Watkins, 23, was working as a dietary aide at Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs. She got the job two weeks before her death.
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 Ricky 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.
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In 2001, he was killed in a head-on traffic crash near Colorado Springs at the age of 31, according to reports.
“After all these years, we are grateful to finally give Jennifer Watkins’ family the answers they deserve,” Colorado Springs Police Chief Vince Niski.
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.”
As part of the initial homicide investigation right after Watkins was found, detectives interviewed Severt.