Cold Case Chronicles: 1990 missing persons case revived with new evidence
Editor’s Note: The following is one of a series of articles on Stamford cold cases.
STAMFORD — New DNA evidence has revived a missing persons case from 1990 and will now be investigated as a homicide, said Stamford police.
Marie Andree Joseph, 21, of Stamford, was reported missing in December 1990, said Stamford Police Officer Wayne Macuirzynski. About eight months later, in August 1991, a skull with two bullet holes in the back was found at 45 Research Drive in Stamford, he said.
Macuirzynski said Joseph’s case was originally investigated as a homicide because the skull was found in the same location that her boyfriend and father of her two children Andre Lubin worked.
Police said Joseph’s case was suspicious from the beginning because, at the time, Joseph had two girls, ages 2 and 1, and did not pick up her last paycheck at J.C. Penney, where she worked. However, police did not gather enough evidence to charge anyone with the murder of Joseph and the case, labeled a missing persons case, remained dormant for more than 10 years, said Macuirzynski.
“Unfortunately they did not have enough evidence back then to identify the skull, so the case couldn’t be investigated any further,” said Macuirzynski.
Macuirzynski, who was put in charge of missing persons for the Stamford Police Department four years ago, said he started to follow up on missing persons cases, and the Joseph case jumped out at him because of the unusual circumstances surrounding it. That was when police decided to test the skull for mitochondrial DNA, the examination of DNA extracted from the bone, which can only come from the maternal side of the family, he said.
“Mitochondrial DNA has made leaps and bounds over the years,” said Macuirzynski. “At the time, the skull was discovered, mitochondrial DNA was not as reusable as it is now.”
Macuirzynski said police tested Joseph’s mother, sister and daughter for mitochondrial DNA and got a direct match.
“We were thrilled Joseph’s family came forward so fast to give their DNA, and we got a match,” said Macuirzynski. “Although the case is still open, at least that gives the family some answers. Unfortunately, Joseph was a murder victim, but now we will investigate that.”
Stamford Police Lt. Diedrich Hohn said Joseph’s case is unusual because if a person is missing for that long, it’s not likely to find evidence that is still usable in the case.
“A lot of the time, missing persons cases don’t get solved, even if it’s a suspected homicide,” said Hohn. “Of course, Joseph’s case will remain open — and we are lucky that we found this new DNA evidence — but we still are going to have to try and solve a case from over a decade ago.”
Hohn said if Joseph’s DNA was not a match, they would have entered any information on her case to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs), a national centralized repository and resource center for missing persons and unidentified decedent records.
“This is a fairly new system that helps identify missing people across the country,” said Hohn. “The more police departments that use it, the more useful it will become.”
Macuirzynski said police currently have a person of interest in the Joseph case.
“I expect some people to come forward with information that they may have not disclosed before we matched this DNA,” said Macuirzynski. “Science is progressing everyday, and law enforcement agencies are revisiting more cold cases everyday. As time goes by, attitudes change, and you would be surprised who will come to police with information they may have withheld at the time of the crime.”
Anyone with any information on the Joseph case should contact Macuirzynski at (203) 977-5884.
The Stamford Times Headlines