State police solve cold murder case since 1980

MERCER, Pa. (KDKA) – The Pennsylvania State Police’s Army D Criminal Investigation Assessment Unit on Wednesday announced the closure of a cold case dating back to 1980.

Using DNA testing and other methods, they identified the victim of a murder, Edwin Rodriguez, and his killer, Nestor Quintanal.

Mercer County Attorney Peter Acker reviewed the case and said murder charges would be filed but Quintanal died in Florida in 2002 at the age of 71.

On November 6, 1980, a body was found burning near I-80 in Wolf Creek Town. After an autopsy, the body could not be identified due to third-degree burns on 70% of his body, but it was determined to be a 16- to 19-year-old male, weighing 115 pounds and 5’8. ” high.

Advances in technology and funding enabled the investigation to proceed in 2007 when the victim’s DNA profile was gathered through evidence collected at an autopsy in 1980.

Then, in January 2019, the victim’s DNA was sent to a lab for genetic pedigree screening.

A cousin of the victim has been identified. They were able to identify the victim as Rodriguez, a native of Chicago.

Further investigation determined that Quintanal was the killer. Quintanal was a family friend and the two left Chicago for Florida in the fall of 1980.

After they left, Rodriguez’s family never heard from him again.

Rodriguez’s remains have been returned to his family in Chicago – officially closing the case.

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