GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Investigators have identified the killer of a Norton Shores woman whose body was found on a Georgia interstate in 1988, marking the first time in the nation that both a victim and killer of a case were identified using genealogy, they say.
On Tuesday, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation announced that truck driver Henry “Hoss” Fredrick Wise was the killer of Stacey Lyn Chahorski of Norton Shores.
Chahorski’s body was found Dec. 16, 1988 on I-59 northbound in northwest Georgia, not far from the Alabama state line. In September of that year, Chahorski, who had been traveling the country, told her mother her plan was to travel from North Carolina to Flint and then back home, Norton Shores police said. When her mother stopped hearing from her, she reported her missing.
At the scene, investigators found what was believed to be the killer’s DNA. For years, it could not be linked to anyone. Since 2005, the DNA had been entered into CODIS, a DNA index system maintained by the FBI.
In June, agents used Othram, a lab that specializes in advanced testing, to trace it back through genealogy.
“Investigation revealed Wise had a living family member who was interviewed, cooperated, and a DNA match was confirmed,” Keri Farley, FBI special agent in charge of the case, said at a Tuesday news conference in Georgia.
Investigators found that Wise worked for Western Carolina Trucking and his route would have put him in the area at the time.
“That route that he would have taken from that trucking company would have put him through Chattanooga, Nashville and Birmingham, which would have been the direct route to where Stacey was found,” said Joe Montgomery, Georgia Bureau of Investigation special agent who has been on the case since 2005.
Investigators said Wise was also a stunt driver who lived between the Carolinas and Florida with family in Georgia. He also had a criminal history in the southeast that ranged from theft, assault, to obstruction of a police officer, investigators said. All of it predated mandatory DNA testing for felony crimes.
In 1999, Wise burned to death in a stunt car accident at the Myrtle Beach Speedway, investigators said.
Chahorski was originally buried in a Dade County, Georgia, graveyard. Over 33 years later, this past March, her body was identified using fingerprint genealogy technology based on prints from her and her relatives.
Investigators said this case is “extremely unique.”
“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,” Farley said.