• 41°

l police say they have a suspect in 1985 murder case

Laurel police say they have a suspect in the 1985 slaying of Cookie Dean, a 7-year-old girl found dead after leaving home on an errand.

“This case has been a dark cloud that’s hung over this city for 21 years,” said Laurel Police Department Assistant Chief Walter Martin at a press conference Thursday.

“But because of the work by past and present detectives and policemen, we have developed a prime suspect in this case with the help of today’s forensic technology. We are very comfortable that an arrest is forthcoming.”

Police declined to identify the suspect.

“He is being held at this time by another law enforcement agency,” said Police Lt. Layne Bounds, who was credited by authorities with solving the mysterious crime. “He isn’t going anywhere.”

On Jan. 29, 1985, the 7-year-old girl disappeared after walking to a corner store on South Fourth Avenue in Laurel. Her body was found the next day.

During the investigation, police interviewed 30 different suspects. In 1999, when DNA testing became readily available to law enforcement agencies, physical evidence was submitted for testing.

There was no evidence from a suspect by which to compare it — not until Bounds, about six months ago, submitted evidence from a suspect. Bounds was notified Wednesday that a match had been obtained.

“I was here 21 years ago when this first happened,” said Martin. “I always hoped this case would have some closure to it, but as the years go by, you wonder.”

Bounds would not go into details regarding the type and nature of the forensic test sent to Reliagene Technologies in New Orleans. “This particular method of testing physical evidence has been in use for about two years,” Bounds said.

Jones County Assistant District Attorney Dennis Bisnette said, “The advances in forensic technology caught up to this crime.”