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New evidence examined in 1994 killing

MOORHEAD — Almost 20 years after the body of a Moorhead woman was found washed up along the Red River, the Clay County Sheriff’s Office may have new evidence that could help identify her killer.

Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension discovered foreign hairs while re-examining the 1994 murder of Renee Nelson. That potential evidence has been sent off for further DNA analysis.

Nelson, 22, went missing in Moorhead in October 1994. Her body was found the following April on the banks of the Red River near Comstock, about 30 minutes south of Moorhead. Nelson’s death was ruled a homicide.

Lt. Bryan Green with the Clay County Sheriff’s Office said they’ve had a suspect in Nelson’s murder for almost 10 years, but not enough evidence for a prosecutor to charge. That suspect is in a Montana prison for another crime, he said.

Advances in technology helped unearth the new possible evidence, but it may not directly identify a suspect as normal DNA would. Because the hair had decayed so much, BCA specialists will analyze it for Mitochondrial DNA, which can be compared for a match with an individual’s mother or siblings.

Green said it may be another six to seven months before that analysis comes back.

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