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RICHMOND, Texas (KIAH) – A grant by a nonprofit group could help authorities in Fort Bend County to finally solve a 48-year-old cold case murder.

The case of the strangulation death of Julie Esther Hawkins from December of 1973 has been reopened by the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office. Hawkins was only 16 years old when she was found in a wooded area near Clodine Road and FM 1464. The autopsy confirmed she had been strangled.

Now, thanks to a grant of over $10,000 to the FBCSO by Season of Justice (SOJ), a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing funding to law enforcement agencies and families to help solve cold cases, Hawkins’ death can be re-investigated.

SOJ provides grants for advanced DNA testing, including forensic genealogy and next-generation sequencing. 

The Fort Bend County Sheriff`s Office plans to conduct additional DNA testing using Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) in order to obtain a full DNA profile. Such state-of-the-art technology was not available in the 1970s.

Fort Bend County Sheriff Eric Fagan said the combination of breakthrough DNA technology and persistent investigative efforts offers a ray of hope in solving the case.

 “We pray that this revolutionary technology will bring us one step closer to solving this case and bringing closure,” said Sheriff Fagan. “The Fort Bend County Sheriff`s Office continues to aggressively investigate violent crime cases dating back to the early `70s.”

 Anyone who may have information about this case or any other FBCSO case is asked to contact FBCSO`s Robbery/Homicide Unit at 281-341-4665 or Fort Bend County Crime Stoppers at 281-342-TIPS (8477).