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Colorado Springs Police Department solves 1999 cold case murder of Jennifer Watkins

Posted at 9:08 AM, Dec 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-10 11:08:14-05

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — After more than two decades, Colorado Springs Police can put to rest a cold case homicide from 1999.

Jennifer Watkins was working at Memorial Hospital when her body was discovered, beaten, and sexually assaulted. DNA evidence collected from the crime scene was sent to labs years later.

Twenty-first century technology pieced together a profile for the suspect, identified as Ricky Severt, who worked at the same hospital as Watkins.

When police went to track him down they discovered Severt was killed in a car crash in 2001.

After careful review, the district attorney has decided to close the case, hopefully giving the family some closure too.

The technology used in the case has actually helped solve two Colorado cold cases in the last week. The first in Colorado Springs, and the second in Grand Junction.

Colorado Springs Police Sgt. Cory Dabb said they might be in a different spot if they didn't work with Parabon NanoLabs.

"Their help was beneficial and we would not be here today if it weren't for Parabon," Dabb said.

Parabon provided some hair and semen samples from Watkin's body. Through DNA analysis and genetic genealogy, they were able to match Watkin's killer to Ricky Severt.

Parabon's chief genetic genealogist, CeCe Moore, has been a part of the investigation since 2017.

"We have been working on this case for quite some time. It has not been an easy one to solve," Moore said.

Moore said Parabon's genetic technology used to solve the Watkin's murder has been able to solve another 140 cold cases around the country the past two years — something that would not have been possible years ago.

"With the passage of time, technology has caught up with the numerous amount of criminals based on the work we can do nowadays," Dabb said.