Authorities in Onondaga County say they have resolved one of their most perplexing cold cases: A murder back in 1998. YNN's Bill Carey says the case came together once authorities finally figured out who the victim was.
ONONDAGA COUNTY, N.Y. – If ever there had been a case that no one expected to ever solve, it was this one.
"May 16, 1998, we were called down to the Onondaga Nation because a skull had been discovered," said Onondaga County Sheriff Kevin Walsh.
No other remains were found at the scene. No DNA matches. No clear answers. It wasn't until 1999 that relatives of a North Brunswick, New Jersey woman reported her missing. And there was no information to tie the missing persons case of Maryann Krepps to the discovery made here on the Onondaga Indian Nation Territory.
"For the first year and four days, we're not going to have any success looking, because she's not reported missing," said Captain Daniel Brogan of the Onondaga County Sheriff's Department.
Maryann Krepps' family thought she may be in the Syracuse area. She had been dating a man they knew as Thomas Kelly. Police talked with Kelly at his apartment on North Townsend Street. He said he and Krepps had broken up. That she was dating a drug dealer in New York City.
What police and the Krepps family didn't know was that Thomas Kelly was actually Thomas Card, who had served prison time in New Jersey for a sex offense.
A few months after being questioned about Krepps' whereabouts, Kelly, or Card, was involved in an accident in Pennsylvania, driving Maryann's car.
Walsh said, "Kelly told the Pennsylvania State Police that Krepps was in drug rehabilitation somewhere in New York State and that once she finished her rehabilitation, they planned on getting married."
There were suspicions, but still no evidence that Maryann Krepps was dead.
It was 2010 when members of the woman's family had handed over DNA samples for entry into a national database. In April of this year, a match to that discovery 15 years ago at Onondaga.
Again, police went to talk with Thomas Kelly, or Card. It turns out, he had disappeared from Syracuse back in 1999, ending up back in New Jersey and convicted in yet another sex case.
"And Thomas Card died in prison in December of 2006," Walsh said.
Both suspect and victim dead, but investigators say they have enough evidence to make their case.
"To the Krepps family, we have found your daughter, your mother, your sister's killer. And he is dead and we believe justice is served," said Fist chief Assistant Onondaga County District Attorney Rick Trunfio.
And the remains of Maryann Krepps are finally headed home.
There was another reason authorities had never tied the discovery of a partial skull to the Maryann Krepps case. A forensic pathologist, at the time, had said the skull had characteristics of an African American woman, meaning Krepps case would not have matched the description. Authorities say it was a theory based on what they claim is not an "exact science." They say the exact science of DNA cleared up the mistake.