#UNSOLVED: New DNA technology used to test evidence in 1987 murder

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BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Detectives with the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office are hoping new technology leads to answers in a murder case more than 30 years old.

Investigators are waiting for new DNA results to come back on the Jaye Potter Mintz case.

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Last week, we told you about one of the most well-known murders in the Cape Fear, a mother brutally killed in her home with her son in the room.

In 1987, on Village Road near Leland, detectives were called to one of the most horrific murders in Brunswick County. Civilian Investigative Specialist Jim Westbrook with the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office said 23-year-old Jaye Potter Mintz was found stabbed to death in her home on February 23, 1987.

“Her body was discovered by her mother,” Westbrook said.



Now, 31 years have passed, but one thing has never changed.

“I think Phil felt that Jaye deserved justice,” Civilian Investigative Specialist Mary Doncourt said. “This was something that really mattered to him. It mattered deeply.

Captain Phil Perry’s desire to solve this case touched everyone who knew him.

“He so wanted this to happen,” Doncourt said. “He wanted to know who did this, to give Jaye justice, to give her family some peace.”

Perry retired from the sheriff’s office in 2011, but continued working on the case with the unsolved unit.

“He gave us time,’ Doncourt said. “He gave us talks. He would tell us things that none of us would have known or guessed.”

Civilian Investigative Specialist Mary Doncourt says Perry worked on this case until he died in February.

She said his work will live on.

“I think for us, because he meant so much to us, we’re just going to give him what he wanted sooner or later.”

Where is the investigation now?

“Well, we’re sitting on about 19,000 pages of investigative work,” Civilian Investigative Specialist Woody Clookie said.

“Do you have suspects?”

“We have some, but we’re not about to disclose any information relating to them,” Clookie said.

“Is there anything new in the investigation that you can tell me about that’s happened in recent years?”

“Basically new technology,” Clookie siad.

Doncourt said they are working with a lab that does phenotyping.

“They take DNA, they feed it into a computer and if you have a suspect’s DNA, it will a facial approximation of what that suspect looks like,” Doncourt said.

She also said they are looking into doing more DNA tests with a new device called an M-vac system.

In July, the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office purchased an m-vac system. They immediately used the device on evidence from Mintz’s case.

“It’s a giant vacuum cleaner,” Doncourt said. “They wet down the piece and it just sucks everything up, so it pulls out far more DNA than the old method of just swabbing.”

The Sheriff’s Office is now just waiting on the result to come back from the state crime lab.

Whether it is new technology, or old evidence, Doncourt said they will find the answer.

“Phil taught me a lot and one of the things he taught me is just don’t give up. You’re going to get pushed away, you’re going to be told no. You’re going to hit a brick wall. That’s okay. There’s another string to pull. There is always something. As long as we’re sitting here, as long as we can read these case files, as long as technology keeps advancing, we are just going to keep following that road map,” Doncourt said.

While Phil will not make it to the end of the road with them, Doncourt said he helped get them to the next stop and that is why they will not stop until they find justice for Jaye.

“If we don’t, there will be other people coming along to do it, but we will find Jaye’s killer,” Doncourt said.

If you have any information about this case, please contact the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office.