PRINCETON, Mass. — DNA evidence and an alert state trooper helped find the man they believe killed a New York City woman last summer who was out running near her mother’s Massachusetts home, authorities said Saturday.
“Good afternoon. We got him,” Worcester County District Attorney Joseph Early Jr. proclaimed at a news conference Saturday outside the police department in Princeton, a small community of about 3,500 residents in central Massachusetts. It’s about 40 miles (64 kilometers) west of Boston.
"We're very comfortable that we've got Vanessa Marcotte's killer," Early said.
The body of 27-year-old Marcotte was found Aug. 7 in some woods about a half-mile from her mother's house, where the young woman was visiting family. Marcotte, who worked as an account manager for Google in New York, had gone out to run several hours earlier.
Police said throughout the investigation they believed Marcotte fought her attacker and the suspect had scratches on his face, neck and arms. On Saturday, Early said DNA taken from Marcotte's hands during an autopsy helped solve the case. The DNA was used to help create a profile of a suspect, which was released two months ago. It also matched the DNA of 31-year-old Angelo Colon-Ortiz, who lives in nearby Worcester and who police believe was working in the area at the time of Marcotte's attack.
"It's through her determined fight and her efforts that we obtained the DNA of her killer," Early said.
Colon-Ortiz was charged early Saturday with aggravated assault, aggravated assault and battery and assault with intent to rape. Early said more charges are expected.
The district attorney credited "an alert state trooper assigned to the detective unit" with recently spotting a dark SUV, the type of vehicle witnesses reported seeing in the area. He said that trooper also noticed the driver matched the profile released in February, which determined the suspect in Marcotte's killing was a
Hispanic or Latino man, about 30 years old, with light- to medium-toned skin, an athletic build and is either balding or has short hair.
Unable to find a piece of paper, Early said the trooper wrote down the vehicle's license plate number on his hand. He then looked it up, visited the home of Colon-Ortiz and left a business card, asking him to call. When Colon-Ortiz didn't respond, the trooper later returned to the home and obtained a voluntary DNA sample from Colon-Ortiz. That sample was determined to be a match on Friday and Colon-Ortiz was subsequently arrested.
He was being held Saturday at the state police barracks in Millbury and is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday. Early said Colon-Ortiz, who speaks limited English, has requested an attorney.