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Exclusive: DNA Helps Crack East Harlem Cold Case Killing Of Pregnant Mom

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Joyce Williams 2

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There was relief mixed with rage in a Manhattan courtroom Monday after a family faced an accused killer following a 13-year wait.

WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell On The Case

Six of Joyce Williams’ surviving children were in court on Monday as 49-year-old John Price was charged with her murder. Prosecutors said DNA helped them crack the cold case. It also turns out that Williams was four months pregnant when she was killed in 1998.

Arlene Lidge, 20, thought of her unborn sibling and the mother she could barely remember. Williams was left naked on the roof of a building at the Wagner Houses in East Harlem.

“I always wanted to know what this monster – cause that’s what I call him, a monster — always wanted to know what he looked like and I want to know why he did this to her,” the victim’s daughter, Joy Williams, told CBS 2’s Tony Aiello.

“Cold cases, unsolved homicides, shouldn’t be forgotten cases and both our office and the NYPD understand that,” Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, Jr. said.

Vance Jr. says Manhattan’s Cold Case unit is working through hundreds of unsolved murders and submitting old evidence to the DNA lab, which uses new techniques to see if there’s a hit in the DNA database. When cold case investigators got to the Joyce Williams file, they found scrapings taken from underneath the victim’s fingernails. It was too little to test for DNA back then, but not today.

The results were an immediate match to John Price, who was doing time for another murder and a string of sex assaults from 1998 — the year Joyce Williams was killed.

Williams’ children say they are grateful for the dogged efforts by police and prosecutors. “Wow, they really, these guys was working on the cases, and I really, really want to thank them,from the bottom of my heart — truly,” Lidge said.

The District Attorney supports Governor Andrew Cuomo’s bill to expand DNA collection in New York, which calls for taking a sample from everyone convicted of a crime, including many misdemeanors.

Do you think DNA collection should play a larger role in fighting crime? Share your thoughts in the comments section…

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