LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — For more than three decades, there has been no suspect in the murder case of 14-year-old Stephanie Anne Isaacson. But that changed Wednesday when Las Vegas police announced they have solved the case.
Metro police held a news conference to give an update on the 32-year-old murder case of the teenager.
“We have identified multiple persons of interest over the last decades,” said Lt. Ray Spencer. “It was not until July of 2021 that we were able to identify a suspect.”
According to Metro, Isaacson, an Eldorado High School student, was attacked as she walked to school around 6:30 a.m. on June 1, 1989. No one would know anything happened to the teen until hours later when her father became concerned when she didn’t return home after school.
After learning from her friends that she had not been seen at school all day, he called police.
Isaacson’s body was found in a desert lot near Stewart Avenue and Linn Lane about one-third of a mile from her high school. It was on a route she normally walked. Police said she had been sexually assaulted and strangled.
In 1998 and again in 2007, DNA from the crime scene was tested but no matches were found in CODIS, the Combined DNA Index System. It was genetic genealogy testing that solved the case. In Nov. 2020, a DNA lab offered to use the new technology to help solve a cold case for Metro. The funding to pay for the testing came from an anonymous donor. The last of the DNA from the Isaacson case was submitted.
“In January 2021, the forensic lab in conjunction with our cold case homicide team submitted the remaining evidence that we had, which was very little DNA left, the equivalent of 15 cells was submitted for this testing,” said Kimberly Murga, director of Metro Laboratory Services.
Police say they got a DNA match to the murder suspect through a genealogy website and identified him as Darren R. Marchand.
He had been arrested prior to Isaacson’s death in connection with the 1986 murder of a woman but the case lacked evidence and was dismissed. Police say the DNA from that case also matched with DNA found at the Isaacson crime scene.
Marchand committed suicide in 1995 prior to his 30th birthday.
Spencer says the attack on Isaacson was random. He read a statement from Isaacson’s mother.
“I’m glad they found who murdered my daughter. I never believed the case would be solved. It’s good to have some closure but there is no justice for Stephanie at all. We will never have complete closure because nothing will ever bring my daughter back to us.”
If Issacson were alive today, she would be turning 47 on Aug. 12.