The RCMP say they have new DNA evidence in the Dana Bradley murder investigation, a case that has captivated Newfoundland and Labrador for more than three decades.
Police say they re-sent DNA samples pertaining to the 14-year-old girl's 1981 death to a lab for additional testing. That testing connected the murder to an unknown suspect.
"This new DNA evidence is a breakthrough for the investigation," said Insp. Pat Cahill, the officer in charge of the RCMP's Major Crime Unit.
"Our investigators are using the DNA to eliminate suspects and continue to clear tips received from the public."
Hundreds of suspects
Further DNA testing is underway, police said in a news release issued Thursday.
Bradley's stepfather Jeff Levitz told CBC News he is "pleased that time has enabled the investigation to proceed this far with new technology."
Levitz said the family will wait to see what happens with the investigation.
In an interview with CBC News, Cahill said this new evidence has allowed police to clear tips and eliminate suspects.
"The new DNA evidence is relatively new and we are eliminating suspects are as speak and we have eliminated some and we are at present reviewing the file now and going back through old suspects," Cahill said.
Cahill said there are hundreds of suspects.
"We hope moving forward that this is the breakthrough we've been waiting for."
35 years ago
Bradley was reported missing to police on Dec.14, 1981.
Her body was discovered four days later in a remote area near Maddox Cove, a small community just south of St. John's.
She was last seen hitchhiking on Topsail Road. Witnesses said she was picked up by a man driving a four-door sedan.
Dale Smith, who had been looking for a Christmas tree in the woods off Maddox Cove Road, found Bradley's body.
"I was informed after that she had books tucked up in under her arm," Smith told CBC News in 2006.
"Now, I never saw that because I wouldn't look that far, at her face. I didn't want that in my memory, you know."
This is the first big development in years in a case that's attracted massive public interest and has had its fair share of twists and turns.
In 1986, Mount Pearl resident David Somerton confessed to the crime. He later recanted and the charges were stayed.
Meanwhile, Cahill is urging anyone with information on Bradley's death to come forward to police.
"A small, seemingly insignificant piece of information could be the tip we need to identify the person or persons responsible for Dana's death."