On November 29, 2021, police identified Johnny Blake Peterson as the lead suspect in the January 26, 1979 rape and murder of 16-year-old Kim Bryant in Las Vegas, Nevada. The case has been cleared by exception due to the death of Peterson.
Bryant was abducted from a Dairy Queen on North Decatur Boulevard where she was supposed to meet her boyfriend. When she failed to return home from school later that day, her parents reported her missing. Her body was found three weeks later, on February 20th, in a desert area in the northwest of the city.
A forensic DNA profile was developed in 2008 from semen taken from Bryant’s body, but this returned no hits to DNA databases. An FGG investigation was performed by Othram Inc, beginning in August of 2021. Funding for the investigation was donated by Justin Woo and the non-profit organization Vegas Helps. The final confirmation was made to a living relative of Peterson.
Police have stated that Peterson died in January of 1993. Peterson was 19 years old at the time of the murder and had at one time been a student at the high school that Bryant attended, although there is currently no information that she knew him. He was arrested for a sexual assault in 1980, but the case was dismissed.
Shortly after identifying Peterson, police announced that he is also the lead suspect in the December 31, 1983, rape and murder of 22-year-old Diana Hanson. She failed to return home, and her body was found later that day near a quarry just west of the Buffalo neighbourhood of Los Vegas. Semen was collected from her body at the autopsy. Police compared Peterson’s DNA profile to the DNA taken from Hanson, and concluded that his DN profile was consistent with that found on Hanson.
Police continue to investigate whether he may be linked to other crimes that took place in the area.
Geiger, Dorian. “Cold Case Murder of Las Vegas Teen Kim Bryant Solved After 42 Years.” Oxygen, November 30, 2021. Accessed December 3, 2021. https://www.oxygen.com/crime-news/johnny-blake-peterson-idd-as-probable-rapist-killer-in-kim-bryants-1979-las-vegas-murder.
Helsel, Phil. “DNA Helps Solve 1979 Killing of Las Vegas Teenager.” NBC News, November 29, 2021. Accessed December 3, 2021. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/dna-helps-solve-1979-killing-las-vegas-teenager-rcna7024.
Phenix, Duncan. “1983 Cold Case Murder Committed by Same Person as 1979 Killing, Police Say.” CBS 8 News Now Los Vegas, December 6, 2021. Accessed December 7, 2021. https://www.8newsnow.com/news/local-news/1983-cold-case-murder-committed-by-same-person-as-1979-killing/?fbclid=IwAR0Ivz0k3qagQSotRubSESZMmhLRNXm6e-ZiMgbEfurE4_E_koKDqzv2OXQ.
Vogen, Michael. “Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and Othram Partner to Identify 1979 Murderer of Kim Bryant.” DNASolves.com, November 29, 2021. Accessed December 3, 2021. https://dnasolves.com/articles/kim_bryant_murder/.