The Burbank Police Department provided InsideEdition.com with photos of unidentified women they said were found at the home of accused killer Horace Van Vaultz Jr. For more information on the case and to learn what you can do, read below. Scroll to the bottom of the article to see each photo.
The cold cases of two women murdered in Southern California in the 1980s were cracked wide open last year when investigators used a commercial geneaology service to identify a suspect in the decades-old crimes, according to police.
Now, police have released dozens of photos of women found in the home of that suspect, Horace Van Vaultz Jr., and are turning to the public with the hopes of identifying them.
Last November, Van Vaultz was charged with the rapes and murders of 22-year-old Mary Duggan in 1986 and 20-year-old Selena Kough in 1981, according to L.A. County District Attorney Jackie Lacey.
Police said Duggan was found in the trunk of her car in an empty Burbank parking lot and Kough was found under some bushes on a street in Montclair. Both women had been bound, sexually assaulted and suffocated to death.
The two cases were linked through the law enforcement database CODIS in 2006 after DNA profiles recovered from both scenes were found to come from the same person, according to authorities.
But police weren't able to identify an actual suspect until last year, when they submitted the DNA to a commercial geneaology service, Detective Aaron Kay said. They were then able to identify "distant relatives" of the alleged killer and ultimately narrowed down their search to Van Vaultz. Detectives said they obtained his DNA from a trash sample and it was found to be an exact match to the crime scene profile.
"It was pretty incredible, what that meant for [Duggan and Kough's] families," Kay told Inside Edition.
It also marked the first time Los Angeles County filed charges using the controversial method, which is gaining traction around the country for its ability to crack open the most frigid of cold cases, including that of the alleged Golden State Killer in 2018.
"When you have cold cases, you're always looking for new ways to solve them and asking, 'Is that a method we can use in our case?" Kay said.
While executing search warrants at Van Vaultz's home, Burbank police said they found a cache of photographs of unidentified women that looked to be from around the same time that the murders took place.
Kay said he hopes releasing them to the public will help police discover new leads and identify any new witnesses in the case. He added that Van Vaultz knew a lot of people around the time and was hesitant to label the women in the photographs as victims.
Van Vaultz has pleaded not guilty to all the charges, Patch.com reported. His defense attorney Damon Hobdy told InsideEdition.com that his client maintains his innocence and is prepared to fight the charges in court.
As of Monday, two of the women whose photos were initially released to the public have been identified and confirmed to be alive, officials said. Their images have been removed from this article.
Do you recognize any of the people pictured below? If so, the public is asked to call a police hotline at 818-238-3288 with any information.