There’s a major and fascinating break in the vicious murder of a high school cheerleader more than 20 years ago.
Detectives say DNA links the killer to the family of a pilgrim who came to America aboard the Mayflower in 1620 and now they think they know his last name.
Sixteen-year-old Sara Yarborough`s body was found on the campus of Federal Way High School on Dec. 14, 1991. Detectives said she was on her way to drill team practice that morning when two joggers using the school track saw her with an unknown male.
“They had actually seen her in the bushes with the suspect, but they thought they were a couple of teenage kids, in a romantic situation and really didn`t pay it much attention at the time,” said King County Sheriff’s Detective Scott Thompkins.
Sara was raped and strangled. Until now, composite sketches and a vague description was all investigators had to go on, but now there`s much more.
“Several months ago I was talking to a forensic scientist in the crime lab, Jody Sas, who had just attended a training seminar with Coleen Fitzpatrick, who is the president and owner of Identifinders International,” Detective Jim Allen said.
Fitzpatrick is a forensic genealogist who used DNA from the crime scene to trace the suspect`s family - from father to grandfather to great grandfather - all the way back to the Mayflower. Four-hundred plus years later, that information told her a lot about Sara`s killer.
“Descended from Robert Fuller, who came to the U.S. in 1630 (sic., 1620), to Massachusetts,” Fitzpatrick said. “The person who donated the DNA is one of his descendants, I don`t know that person. All I did was correlate against the name so I don`t know if it`s a direct descendant of Robert Fuller or a member of his extended family, but I do know, to a high degree of certainty, the last name if Fuller.”
Fitzpatrick said there`s a 2.5 percent chance the suspect has a different last name due to illegitimacy or adoption. But that tiny chance is the best thing detectives have going for them. They have gotten thousands of tips involving about 3,000 suspect names over the years. But with a 97 percent certainty of the suspect’s last name, detective Allen is hoping this is the last tip they`ll need.
“I think there may be people who know their family background or if there is somebody out there whose name is Fuller that matches the description that passed through the Federal Way area in December of 1991, perhaps this could lead somebody to call us up and give us a name,” Allen said.
Again, the killer's last name may be Fuller. He`s between 5’10 to 6 feet tall. He had long, dirty blonde hair at the time, medium build and was wearing a trench coat. If you know anything about this man, or think you know somebody named Fuller in the area at that time, Detective Jim Allen with the King County Sheriff’s Office wants to talk to you -- or you can call the Crime Stoppers hotline anonymously at 1-800-222-tips.