DNA testing
DNA testingiStock

CNN reports that Robert Plympton, 60, was found guilty last week on a count of first-degree murder in the killing of Mt. Hood Community College student Barbara Tucker, age 19, in 1980. Tucker’s body was found after she had been “kidnapped, sexually assaulted, and beaten to death.”

Swabs taken during Tucker’s autopsy were used to create a DNA profile of the suspect. After many years during which the case remained a mystery, several years ago the police contacted the Virginia-based DNA technology company Parabon, to try to locate potential suspects based on the DNA profile created by investigators.

After extensive research, Parabon’s chief genealogist, CeCe Moore, announced that she had succeeded in locating the potential suspect in the murder, Robert Plympton. While she was building family trees of the people who shared DNA with the sample provided by police, she discovered World War II draft record cards of red-headed men.

“When I built family trees of people with DNA similar to the sample provided to me by the police, I found many people with red hair. So, there was extremely high likelihood that the person who murdered and raped Barbara had red hair. It helped, because it made me focus on one particular line of the family and follow that red hair down. And then I landed in Oregon," Moore said.

CNN continued to report that after the data was passed on to the police, detectives began following Plympton and were able to collect a wad of chewing gum that detectives witnessed him spit out, the DA’s office said. DNA pulled from the gum matched the profile from the autopsy, which proved that he was probably Tucker's killer, and the mystery could be solved after 44 years.

Plympton was arrested on June 8, 2021 and will be sentenced this June, according to a news release from the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office.

His lawyers claim his innocence. “We will appeal, and we are confident that his convictions will be overturned,” attorneys Stephen Houze and Jacob Houze said in a statement to CNN.