Advances in DNA technology allowed Jefferson County investigators to crack a 56-year-old cold case and identify a suspect in the killing of a teenage girl in her tent at a Girl Scouts camp.
Margaret “Peggy” Beck, 16, was sexually assaulted and strangled on Aug. 18, 1963, in her tent at the Flying G Ranch Girl Scouts Camp near Deckers, where she was a counselor. She was sleeping alone because her tentmate had gone to the infirmary. Although the nearest tent was 75 feet away, nobody interviewed by police recalled hearing or seeing anything.
Jefferson County sheriff’s investigators used the DNA profile to identify James Raymond Taylor as the suspect. He was last seen in 1976, and his whereabouts are unknown, according to a sheriff’s office news release.
Law enforcement collected scrapings from under Beck’s fingernails and submitted them for DNA testing, according to previous Denver Post reporting. Investigators created a DNA profile from the evidence in 2007 and submitted it to a national database, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. A more comprehensive profile was created in June 2019, and investigators were able to identify the suspect through genealogical research.
Colorado law enforcement have solved several other cold cases using similar tactics, including the 1981 killing of a teenage hitchhiker and the 1980 stabbing of a college student.
If anyone has information Taylor, they are urged to call the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office tip line at (303) 271-5612 or Metro Denver Crime Stoppers at (720) 913-7867 and are asked to reference case 63-10335.
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