Oregon man convicted of murder in 1978 death of teenage girl in Alaska

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — An Oregon man has been convicted of murder in the 1978 death of a teenage girl in Alaska, in a case investigators made using genetic genealogy decades later.

Donald McQuade, 67, was convicted this week in state court in Anchorage of murder in the death of Shelley Connolly, 16, whose body was found near a highway pullout between Anchorage and Girdwood, Alaska Public Media reported. Sentencing is set for April 26.

Years after Connolly’s death, Alaska State Troopers developed a DNA profile from swabs collected from her body but failed to get a match. In 2019, they turned to genetic genealogy testing, which involves comparing a DNA profile to known profiles in genealogical databases to find people who share the same genetic information.

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McQuade was living in Alaska when Connolly died, and investigators later were able to get a DNA sample from him that they said matched DNA found on her body. KTUU in Anchorage reports McQuade is from Gresham.

McQuade was arrested in 2019 but his trial, like others at the time, was delayed because of the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

The prosecutor during the trial emphasized the evidence from Connolly’s body. But McQuade’s attorney, Kyle Barber, told jurors the DNA evidence was the only evidence the state had against McQuade. He said investigators also found DNA evidence possibly linked to two other people.

Central Oregon Daily News contributed to this report.

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