Police solve case of girl abducted, raped, killed in 1982

For years, police sought clues in the death of Kelly Prosser, abducted while walking home from elementary school


Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A nearly four-decade-old cold case involving the abduction, rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl was pronounced closed Friday when Columbus police said a new genealogical testing technique identified the girl's killer.

For years, police sought clues in the death of Kelly Prosser, abducted while walking home from a Columbus elementary school on Sept. 20, 1982. Her body was found in a Madison County cornfield two days later.

The body of Kelly Prosser, 8, was found in a cornfield two days after her disappearance. (Photo/Ohio Attorney General's Office)
The body of Kelly Prosser, 8, was found in a cornfield two days after her disappearance. (Photo/Ohio Attorney General's Office)

Detectives began working with a genealogy company in the past few months to use DNA from the crime scene to identify the suspect. After establishing a family tree, police interviewed family members and determined that Harold Warren Jarrell was Kelly's killer.

Jarrell died in Las Vegas in 1996 at 67. Jarrell was convicted of a similar abduction in Columbus in 1977 but no evidence tied him to Prosser's case, police said.

“It is satisfying to let the family know what happened to their little girl though it doesn’t bring her back,” said Det. Dana Croom of the police department's Cold Case Unit.

The technique known as genetic genealogy testing and research has solved a number of high-profile cold cases nationally in recent years, including California's so-called Golden State Killer.

Associated Press
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