Herbert Rice was identified on March 29, 2022, as the lead suspect in the March 22, 1980, rape and murder of 20-year-old Eve Wilkowitz in Bay Shore, New York. The case has been cleared by exception due to the death of Rice.
Wilkowitz had just begun a new job at the MacMillan publishing house in Manhattan. She had taken the last train home that night and was killed while walking home from the station. Her body was found in a yard near her apartment three days later. She had been sexually assaulted and strangled to death.
A DNA profile of the suspect was developed from a sexual assault kit. Rice’s son voluntarily provided a DNA sample to police, which showed that he was the natural son of the person whose DNA was recovered from the crime scene. Police have stated that they attempted to obtain the son’s DNA surreptitiously and asked for his consent when this was not possible. Rice passed away from cancer in 1991. His body was exhumed on March 10, 2022, and his DNA profile matched that collected from the crime scene.
At the time of the murder, Rice had been asked by his wife to leave their family home. He was staying with his mother, who lived about four houses away from the yard where Wilkowitz’s body was found.
Wilkowitz’s sister, Irene was a staunch advocate for her sister’s case over the years. Irene’s son, Evan, learned about FGG after reading about its use to identify Joseph James DeAngelo as the Golden State Killer, and he advocated for its use in the investigation into his aunt’s murder.
Rice had a minor criminal record, including a conviction for a misdemeanor theft for which he served a short jail sentence, but had not been convicted of any offence which would have resulted in his DNA sample being placed in a law enforcement database.
Associated Press. “Cold Case Solved: DNA Match Helps Police Identify Attacker Who Killed Eve Wilkowitz in 1980.” ABC 7 News, March 31, 2022. Accessed March 31, 2022. https://abc7chicago.com/cold-case-solved-eve-wilkowitz-herbert-rice-long-island/11696226/.
Murphy, Mary. “Sister of Strangled LI Woman Sees Killer’s Face – Four Decades Later.” PIX 11 News, March 30, 2022, last updated March 31, 2022. Accessed March 31, 2022. https://pix11.com/news/local-news/long-island/sister-of-strangled-li-woman-sees-killers-face-four-decades-later/.
Schuppe, John. “She Waited 42 Years to Learn Who Killed Her Sister. The Answer Didn’t Ease Her Pain.” NBC News, March 29, 2022. Accessed March 31, 2022. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/eve-wilkowitz-murder-dna-rcna21839.