weather icon Partly Cloudy

Las Vegas police say they have solved 1979 killing of teen girl

Updated November 29, 2021 - 4:49 pm

Las Vegas police announced on Monday that they have solved the 1979 abduction, rape and killing of a 16-year-old girl by using advances in DNA technology.

Police homicide Lt. Ray Spencer said Western High School student Kim Bryant went missing on Jan. 26, 1979, from a fast food restaurant parking lot near campus.

Nearly a month later, the teen’s body was found in an undeveloped area near West Charleston Boulevard and South Buffalo Drive. Police concluded that she had been sexually assaulted. DNA evidence was recovered from her body, but the case soon went cold.

On Monday, Spencer said cold case detectives had solved the case with the help of scientists from the Texas lab Othram Inc. They identified the killer as Johnny Blake Peterson, who died in 1993. The Las Vegas man was 19 at the time of the crime.

Spencer said the case was solved by using forensic-grade genome sequencing provided by the lab.

“Ten days ago we were notified that the genealogical profile built by Othram labs, based on sperm recovered from the body of Kim Bryant at autopsy, revealed that Johnnie Blake Peterson was the person who kidnapped, sexually assaulted and murdered Kim Bryant,” Spencer said.

At a news conference, Spencer read a statement from Bryant’s father, Edward Elliott, thanking police, Othram and Las Vegas philanthropist Justin Woo, who made a donation to police that paid for the DNA testing.

“Kim was a beautiful girl with a bright future. and it makes me happy that something is being done to solve cases such as hers,” the statement said.

Othram recently helped solve another cold case from Las Vegas: the 1989 killing of 14-year-old Stephanie Isaacson. Isaacson disappeared on her way to school. She was sexually assaulted, then bludgeoned in the area of Stewart Avenue and Linn Lane.

Police announced in July that Darren Roy Marchand, who had died previously, was Isaacson’s killer. The identification was made using just 15 cells of DNA evidence.

Contact Glenn Puit by email at gpuit@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GlennatRJ on Twitter.

This story has been updated to correct the victim’s age.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.