43-Year-Old Clothing
Why M-Vac

43-Year-Old Clothing

Lesia JacksonQuick Facts:
*1979. On an early fall day, a young girl started walking home alone from the swimming pool in Montgomery County, Texas. She never made it. Her body was found six days later, sexually assaulted and murdered.
*Her clothing was processed at the time by the FBI, but to no avail. A couple of people were focused on, also to no avail. A local man, Gerald Casey, was discussed, but no progress was made. The case went cold.
*2007. The clothing was carefully swabbed for DNA. Unfortunately, the clothing had not been stored in a climate-controlled area, and bacterial DNA kept them from getting any results.
*2022. Detectives heard about the M-Vac™ and drove to another Texas county to try processing the evidence with the M-Vac™. They collected a good sample and improved processing techniques allowed them to get a male profile, and the profile had a match on CODIS. The culprit was Gerald Casey, the long-ago passing person of interest. In the meantime, he had killed another person and had been executed.

Story Synopsis:
In the early fall of 1979, a young girl named Lesia Michell Jackson was on her way home alone from the neighborhood swimming pool in Montgomery County, Texas. Her brothers, who were walking a ways ahead of her, were passed by a speeding vehicle which passed them so closely they had to get into the ditch so as not to get hit. Well, Lesia never made it home. Her glasses were found the next day, and her body was found six days later in a local wooded area. She had been sexually assaulted and murdered. Looking back, they believe that she had been picked up and was in that car that sped past her brothers. A couple of suspects were focused on. There were even confessions made, but they were later determined to be false confessions. A man named Gerald Casey was discussed, but never became a serious suspect. The FBI processed her clothing, including a swimsuit top and bottom (which had been used to bind her hands) and shorts and a t-shirt. Nothing came of that at the time, and the evidence was stored away. The case went cold.

In 2006, Montgomery County established their first cold case unit with a single detective. Coincidentally, this detective had been to elementary school with Lesia and he remembered her. He reviewed evidence from several old cases, including Lesia's. With DNA recovery now being a potential for information, the evidence was carefully swabbed and the swabs were processed. However, the evidence had not been stored in climate controlled circumstances and there was mold present, so the swabs were covered in bacterial DNA and nothing helpful was found. Again the case stalled.

Gerald CaseyThen in the fall of 2021, one of the investigators attended a cold case class where he heard about the M-Vac™. He came back to the department and suggested they try it on the evidence from Lesia's case. They were concerned that, with the deteriorated state of the evidence, this might be their last chance to process it. They wondered if they should wait longer for even better technological advances. However, they decided that Lesia's family was aging, as well as anyone else who might still be able to answers questions about the day of the murder. So they determined to give the M-Vac™ a try and made the trip to a nearby county to use their M-Vac™ machine. By now the clothing was 42 years old and had been processed twice before. When it was processed, bacterial DNA was again a problem, masking the male DNA. But they sent the sample to the state lab and they had the technology to separate it out, so this time they got a hit! They put the male profile in CODIS and found a match, to a local man named Gerald Dewight Casey, the same man who had once been a casual person of interest. A little further research revealed that Casey had been involved in another murder in 1989, and had been executed in 2002, so he couldn't be tried for the case. But another cold case was put to rest.

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Picture Credits:

Lesia - Montgomery County Sheriff

Casey - TDCJ/txexecutions.org


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