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The Juab County Sheriff's Office announced Wednesday that the victims of two unrelated cold-case homicides the 1994 murder of a 4-year-old boy and the 1978 murder of a 33-year-old woman had been identified due to DNA testing.
The boy was identified as Rene A. Romero, from Reno, Nev., whose parents were prosecuted and sentenced for the boy's Nov. 24, 1994 murder, even though his body had not been found, the Juab County Sheriff's Office said in a news release.
The woman was identified as Marilee Bruszer, 33, from Long Beach, Calif., who was reported missing on Aug. 22, 1978, according to the news release.
In the case of the boy, sheriff's deputies responded to Juab Lake on the report of a human skull in November 1996.
The skull was recovered along with other bones and hair, which were taken to the Utah Medical Examiner's Office. The case was treated like a homicide and listed on the National Unidentified Persons Data System, the news release said.
In November 2013, Juab sheriff's Lt. Craig Ryan arranged to have the evidence released to him from the medical examiner, and he sent a bone to the University of North Texas Health Science Center in hopes of getting a DNA profile.
In January 2014, Ryan received confirmation from UNT Health Science Center that a DNA match had identified the victim as Rene Romero, due to a match with his mother, Ana Romero. Follow-up on this case with the Reno Police Department confirmed that Rene Romero had been murdered in Reno, the news release said.
In the second case, sheriff's officers responded in September 1978 to the report of a female body at Yuba Reservoir.
The medical examiner's office ruled that the victim died from strangulation, but the victim was unidentified, the news release said.
Then, in 2014, Ryan obtained a sample of the victim's hair from the medical examiner's office and sent it to the UNT Health Science Center and had a DNA profile established.
On Aug. 20, 2015, Ryan learned that a DNA match had been made with Bruszer's mother and a sibling, the news release said.
The Long Beach Police Department which had listed Bruszer as a missing endangered person advised the Juab Sheriff's Office that now, having a positive notification on the death of the victim, they would reopen that case as a homicide case and try to follow leads again.
Notification to Bruszer's remaining family members was made by Long Beach police, the news release said.