State police solve cold case killing from 1980

MERCER, Pa. (KDKA) – Pennsylvania State Police’s Troop D Criminal Investigation Assessment Unit announced on Wednesday the closure of a cold case from 1980.

Using DNA testing and other methods, they identified the victim of a homicide, Edwin Rodriguez, and his killer, Nestor Quintanal.

Mercer County District Attorney Peter Acker reviewed the case and said homicide charges would have been filed but Quintanal died in Florida in 2002 at the age of 71.

On November 6, 1980, a body was found burning near I-80 in Wolf Creek Township. After an autopsy, the body could not be identified due to third-degree burns on 70-percent of his body, but it was determined it was a 16-to-19-year-old man, 115 pounds, and 5’8″ tall. 

Advancements in technology and funding helped further the investigation in 2007 when a DNA profile was obtained from the victim through evidence collected at the 1980 autopsy.

Then, in January 2019, the victim’s DNA was sent to a lab for a genetic genealogy screening.

A cousin of the victim was identified. They were able to identify the victim as Rodriguez, a native of Chicago.

Further investigation determined that the Quintanal was the killer. Quintanal was a family friend and the two left Chicago for Florida in the fall of 1980.

After they left, Rodriguez’s family never heard from him again.

Rodriguez’s remains were returned to his family in Chicago – officially closing the case.


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