John Petrecca

On December 1, 2021, Baltimore County police announced that John Anthony Petrecca Jr. was the lead suspect in the September 23, 1981, murder of 13-year-old Heather Porter in Halethorpe, Maryland. The case has been cleared by exception due to the death of Petrecca.

Porter had argued with her parents, and snuck out of the house with a friend, Sue Yutzy. Yutzy left Porter a few blocks from her home. Porter was found the next morning. She had been sexually assaulted and strangled to death. She had skin under her fingernails, likely from fighting against her attacker. Her body was dumped in a wooded area in Towson.

The FGG investigation was undertaken by Bode Technologies, with further investigation by the FBI. The final confirmation was made through the exhumation of Petrecca’s remains on March 11, 2021. A DNA sample was taken and compared with the crime scene DNA. Authorities confirmed Petrecca as the lead suspect on November 12, 2021.

Petrecca died in the year 2000. Authorities report that he resided in Halethorpe at the time of the murder, very close to where Porter was last seen. They also state that he was arrested for sex offences in the 1960s and 1970s, although little else is known about his criminal record at the present time. Police are investigating whether Petrecca is linked to any other crimes in the area.


Associated Press. “Baltimore County Detectives Solve 1981 Killing of Teen Girl.” AP News, December 2, 2021. Accessed December 8, 2021.

Davis, Phil. “Murder of Teenage Girl Found Dead in Towson 40 Years Ago is Solved, Baltimore County Police Say.” Baltimore Sun, December 1, 2021. Accessed December 8, 2021.

Hellgren, Mike. “A Baltimore County Woman Pushed to Find Her Childhood Friend’s Killer for 40 Years; How New DNA Evidence Finally Cracked the Case.” CBS News Baltimore, December 2, 2021. Accessed December 8, 2021.

Zumer, Bryna. “Baltimore County Police Solve 40-Year-Old Murder of 13-Year-Old Halethorpe Girl.” Fox News Baltimore, December 1, 2021. Accessed December 8, 2021.


First Name John
Last Name Petrecca
Other Names
Victims 1 (Details)
IGG Started nd
Case Cleared 2021-12-01
IGG Org Bode; FBI


Case ID Name Age Case Opened Location Investigating Org Most Serious Charge Disposition Court
1569 Heather Porter 13 1981-09-23 Halethorpe, MD Baltimore CO PD Second degree murder Case was cleared by exception due to death of perpetrator n/a

Last updated: February 9, 2024

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Case data and narrative licensed under CC BY 4.0: Dowdeswell, Tracey (2023), “Forensic Genetic Genealogy Project v. 2022”, Mendeley Data, V1, doi: 10.17632/jcycgvhm96.1. All other content, including photos, have been added.