The murder of Sarah Yarborough, found strangled on the grounds of Federal Way High School more than 20 years ago, still haunts King County investigators. She was just 16, a popular and talented junior with straight A's, who arrived on campus the morning of Dec. 14, 1991 to meet up with other members of her drill team.
The murder sent the community reeling and generated nearly 4,000 tips. But nothing, other than theories that her killer sexually assaulted and strangled her, then fled on foot.
The investigation has now taken a new and unexpected turn, as a California forensic consultant has tied the DNA sample taken at the crime scene to a family who arrived in Massachusetts in the 17th century.
More precisely, the forensic consultant, Colleen Fitzpatrick, having compared the profile to others in genealogy databases, found that the closest match was to the extended family of Robert Fuller, who came to Salem, Mass., in the 1630s. Fuller's relatives had come before him on the Mayflower. King County police sent the DNA profile to Fitzpatrick in December.
Fitzpatrick told CNN that while she hasn't been able to tie the DNA to any one man, she feels certain it could help investigators narrow their list of suspects.
Fuller, added Fitzpatrick, would likely have thousands of relatives.
The King County Sheriff's Office, who reopened the case in 2009, has circulated two composite sketches of the possible murderer -- a man in his 20s at the time with shoulder-length blonde or light hair -- but have not been abe to put a name to the drawing.
"The most important thing is having a last name," Fitzpatricks told CNN. "People get excited about having a Mayflower connection, but the most important thing is having a probably last name for this guy."