PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY, Md. (WDVM) — Police in Prince George’s County have finally charged a suspect in a 1989 homicide cold case.

In January of 1989, 27-year-old Cynthia Rodgers’s body was found in a wooded area in Forestville, Maryland. Authorities ruled her death as a homicide. but were unable to identify her killer. Just days before the 33-year-anniversary of when her body was found, detectives retested the evidence from the crime scene. 

“Cynthia Rogers was one of them that I had targeted that I wanted to have some genealogy research done on because we weren’t having previous success in developing enough DNA to put into CODIS,” said Detective Bernard Nelson of PGPD’s Homicide Cold Case Unit.

Investigators say from there, they were able to develop a profile and enter it into COVID, their DNA database and it positively matched 64-year-old James Clinton Cole who already is serving a life sentence for a separate conviction.

“Genetic genealogy has totally changed cold cases now,” said Sergeant Gregory McDonald, Supervisor of PGPD’s Homicide Cold Case Unit. “And that’s the thing that we pretty much focused on now. Not saying that we don’t focus on other cases that we don’t have DNA in.”

The medical examiner determined that Rodgers was strangled, sexually assaulted, and hit in the head and neck. Detective Nelson said the evidence he had re-examined was a vaginal swab that originally was sent to the FBI in 1989.

“During that process, they actually did what they call consumed all of the cotton from the Q-tip swab,” said Nelson. “However, the DNA lab technician was able to develop a profile from the wooden sticks that the cotton was initially attached to.”

Sergeant McDonald also wants families still waiting for their loved ones’ cold cases to close to know that they aren’t forgotten about and they are working on those cases as well.

“We always like to assure them, we always work on their cases,” said McDonald. “They’re not forgotten about and we’re doing our best to uncover all cases, we just want to get it out there. We’re not ignoring them. We know they’re there, we feel their pain. We’re doing the best we can.”