GEORGIA (WRBL) – In March 2022, Stacey Lyn Chahorski finally got her true name back after being known as Rising Fawn Jane Doe for nearly 34 years, and now investigators have had another major break through in the cold case out of north Georgia.
On Sept. 6, 2022, at a joint news conference between the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and FBI, investigators announced that Chahorski’s killer had been identified through genealogy DNA testing.
Investigators said a man named Henry Fredrick Wise, who was also known as Hoss Wise, is the person who murdered Chahorski in 1988, while he was working as a truck driver.
Wise’s DNA was confirmed as a match for Chahorski’s killer with the assistance of a living family member of his who cooperated with the investigation, according to officials.
Wise, however, won’t be arrested and charged with murdering the 19-year-old Chahorski, because he was killed in a fiery auto crash in 1999.
“We realize solving this horrific crime does not ease the pain for Stacey’s family, nothing can, but hopefully it will answer some questions,” said FBI Atlanta Special Agent in Charge, Keri Farley.
For three decades, Chahorski’s family in Michigan was looking for a missing person, hoping to bring their loved one home, while at the same time, nearly 700 miles away, investigators in Georgia were working tirelessly, trying to identify a murder victim, a young woman whose body had been discarded by a killer, near the Georgia-Alabama state line, in the northern part of the state.
On Dec. 16, 1988, Chahorski’s body was found along side the northbound lane of I-59 in Dade County, Georgia, about five miles away from Alabama. The unidentified victim had been sexually assaulted and then strangled to death.
The victim’s body was heavy decomposed when it was found, and over the years several clay renderings and sketches were made in an attempt to identify her.
Months would pass, then years, then decades, with investigators looking for answers but never getting the break they needed to solve the case. That is when they decided to turn to a new technology that has been seeing success with other cold cases across the country.
“With all the other leads exhausted, funds were secured to use forensic genetic genealogy to generate some new leads in the case,” said Farley.
On March 24, 2022, investigators announced that finally, after three decades, the woman known as Rising Dawn Jane Doe was in fact Stacey Lyn Chahorski.
Genealogy DNA testing by Othram Lab had been used to identify Chahorski.
Fortunately Chahorski’s DNA was not the only DNA found at the crime seen, the killer also left his DNA behind. The same Othram technology that identified Chahorski also identified the man who murdered her as Wise, who would have been about 34-years-old at the time of the murder.
“This case is key because it’s the first time that we know of that investigative genealogy was used to identify both the victim and the killer in the same case,” said Farley.
Investigators said Wise, as a truck driver employed by Western Carolina trucking company in the1980s, traveled the route where Chahorski’s body was found. The route ran through Chattanooga to Birmingham to Nashville.
Officials said Wise was also a stunt driver. He burned to death following a stunt related crash on the Myrtle Beach Speedway in South Carolina in 1999, according to investigators.
Additionally, investigators said Wise had a criminal history in Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina, ranging from theft, assault, to obstruction of a police officer.
Farley said a combination of years of hard work from investigators and Othram’s testing was what solved Chahorski’s case.
“Technology alone did not solve this case, the determination of agents in both the FBI an GBI, along with every office who worked this case for 33 plus years helped bring this case to its conclusion,” said Farley.
Chahorski, as a Jane Doe, was initially laid to rest in a Dade County cemetery, but after she was identified, her body was moved home to her family in Michigan.
Investigators said Chahorski’s mother, Mary Beth Smith, expressed gratitude to the FBI, GBI Special Agent Adam Jones for his relentless pursuit of the case, and GBI Forensic Artist Marla Lawson for her work on the composite drawing and clay rendering. She also thanks Dade County Sheriff Ray Cross, all the people in Dade County who took care of Stacy as she was brought home to Norton Shores, Michigan, and the Norton Shores Police Department for never giving up on finding her.
“I think the most important message we could deliver today, is to any victim of violent crime is that the FBI and our entire law enforcement community in Georgia will never give up, and will use every technological advancement we can to seek justice for you and your family,” said Farley.
Watch the GBI’s Sept. 6, 2022 news conference below:
Watch the GBI’s March 24, 2022 news conference below: