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DNA helps link killings of 4 young women to an American man who lived in Canada illegally

After 48 years of investigation, Alberta Royal Canadian Mounted Police linked the deaths of four young women killed in the Calgary area in the 1970s to one man – a serial sexual offender who they believe may have committed more violent crimes until his death.

Police say Gary Allen Srery killed junior high school friends Eva Dvorak and Patricia McQueen, both 14 years old, in 1976, before killing Melissa Rehorek, 20, and Barbara MacLean, 19, in the span of a year.

“Srery’s criminality spanned decades, over multiple jurisdictions, under numerous aliases, and the Alberta RCMP believe there may be more victims,” Alberta RCMP said in a news release Friday.

Crime scene DNA was seized during the initial homicide investigations, but due to a lack of DNA technology at the time, police failed to link a suspect to the killings.

About 30 years later, in 2003, police were able to confirm the same suspect was linked to Rehorek and MacLean’s deaths through DNA evidence. And in 2021, resubmitted crime scene evidence from the Dvorak and McQueen investigations unearthed a link with those of Rehorek and MacLean, according to RCMP.

“The same unknown male DNA profile was identified on both victims that matched the unknown male DNA profile from the Rehorek and MacLean murders,” police said in a news release. “In light of this new information, the RCMP believed that the same male offender was responsible for the deaths of all four victims.”

Advancements in forensic science technology and the use of forensic investigative genetic genealogy, which combines DNA analysis with traditional genealogy research, have allowed more breakthroughs with DNA evidence collection.

Police used genetic genealogy to identify, Srery, an American who died of natural causes in an Idaho state prison in 2011 while serving a sentence for rape.

“With assistance from Interpol and Idaho State Police Forensic Services, Srery’s DNA was confirmed as a match to the unknown male DNA profile present on all four Calgary victims,” police said.

At the time of the killings, Srery was living illegally in Canada, having fled the US in 1974 after posting bail for a rape charge in California, according to RCMP. Before coming to Calgary, Srery had an extensive criminal record in the US for sexual offenses, including forcible rape, kidnapping, burglary and sexual perversion.

Srery lived in Alberta and British Columbia from the mid 1970s until he was deported in 2003, police say. He used several aliases, including Willy Blackman and Rex Long.

“For over forty years, investigators did not give up in their pursuit to identify those responsible for these murders,” said David Hall of the Alberta RCMP.

“Identifying the perpetrator does not bring Eva, Patsy, Melissa or Barbara back. It is our hope however, that the families are finally able to have some answers as to what happened to their loved ones all of those years ago,” he said.

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