Investigators Hope New DNA Analysis Will Help Solve Holly Cassano Murder
Champaign County investigators say a new DNA analysis of evidence in the 2009 stabbing death of Holly Cassano may help them narrow their search for her killer.
Sheriff Dan Walsh says an analysis of evidence from the crime scene by a private DNA lab in Utah concludes that the suspect is most likely male … and probably has some Hispanic, Native American, Central American or South American heritage.
The evidence was examined by Sorenson Forensics of Salt Lake City, Utah. Previous DNA analysis was performed by the Illinois State Police Crime Lab, and focused on matching evidence with other DNA samples on file.
Chief Deputy Allen Jones with the Champaign County Sheriff’s Department says the analysis by Sorenson Forensics only provides a statistical probability of the suspect’s gender and heritage --- not certainty. But he says it’s helping authorities guide their investigation.
“And even since we’ve had this information that’s gone out recently in the past week, we’ve had four or five tips that’ve come in,” said Jones. “We’ve had some cooperative folks that have participated with us, and even willingly provided samples. So it gives us some focus, and we’re very optimistic that it might help move us to resolution.”
Holly Cassano was found stabbed to death in her home at the Candlewood Estates mobile home park near Mahomet in November, 2009. In 2011, investigators released further details about the killing, disclosing that the 22-year-old single mother had also been sexually assaulted, likely following the murder. From blood found at the crime scene, they believe the killer suffered cuts to his arms or hands during the attack.
In 2011, investigators said an FBI psychological profile indicated that the killer could be a young male, perhaps as young as a teen-ager, who had targeted Cassano before the attack. But they had no specific suspects.
Crime Stoppers says a community reward of $5,500 is available for information leading to the solving of the Cassano murder case.
Jones says the case has been a “very frustrating” one for investigators. But he says the new DNA analysis makes them more optimistic that Holly Cassano’s murder can eventually be solved.
Jones asks anyone with information to contact the Champaign County Sheriff’s Department at 217-384-1213, weekdays from 8 AM to 5 PM. Or an anonymous tip can be sent in to Champaign County Crime Stoppers at 217-373-TIPS (8477) or firstname.lastname@example.org. Jones says they welcome any information on the Cassno case, whether or not it matches the DNA analysis.