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Murder of former Windsorite solved after nearly 50 years by Alberta law enforcement

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Melissa Rehorek, 20, was killed in September 1976 in Calgary.

Warning: Contains graphic content

Her death has been an unsolved murder until last Friday, when authorities identified the person they believe strangled her to death.

“No investigation, no matter how successful can undo the harm caused by crimes of this nature,” RCMP Superintendent David Hall said in a May 17 news conference. “The tireless dedication of all employees of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and our partners allows us to bring answers to the families of the four young women robbed of their futures.”

Police believe Gary Allen Srery is responsible for Rehorek’s murder, because of advancements in genetic testing.Gary Allen Srery is shown in supplied photos. (Supplied: RCMP)

DNA Advancements

In 1976, officers collected seminal fluid from Rehorek’s body even though the technology did not yet exist to identify the suspect.

By 2003, the technology had improved enough to create a profile for the DNA sample collected from Rehorek’ s body.

It was uploaded to a national databank but went 20 years without a positive hit.

In 2021, Alberta RCMP and Calgary Police Service formed a partnership to re-examine exhibits from cold cases using Investigative Genetic Genealogy (IGG).

“Genealogists from Convergence IGG were able to start building a family tree,” Hall said, which was in turn uploaded to consumer genetic databanks; used by people trying to track down long-lost family members.

That work created a ‘suspect hypothesis’ which officers used to advance their investigation into the United States.

Suspect located

They tracked the suspect to Idaho State Prison where they believed Srery was serving a life sentence for rape.

However, they discovered Srery died of natural causes in 2011.

With the help of Interpol and Idaho State Police, Srery’s DNA was a match for the sample collected from Rehorek’s body, according to Hall.

Police also matched his DNA to that of three other murders of young women, all killed in 1976 in Calgary.Left to right: Patricia (Patsy) McQueen, Eva Dvorak, Melissa Rehorek and Barbara MacLean are seen in supplied photos. (Supplied: RCMP)

If he was alive, police say Srery would be facing multiple charges including the first-degree murder of Melissa Rehorek.

Rehorek connection to Windsor

According to Alberta RCMP, Rehorek is originally from Windsor and she moved to Calgary in the spring of 1976.

CTV News was unable to locate any of her family members.

Here is the Rehorek family statement, given to Alberta RCMP.

“First, we would like to thank the team of investigators who have worked to find the person responsible for these crimes. Our message is one about Melissa being a fun loving, adventurous and hard-working person. She was an honest positive person who trusted people. She enjoyed travelling to Banff for her love of nature but also to travel for her curiosity about seeing Canada. Our family appreciates all of your help.”

Police say Rehorek was employed as a housekeeper at the time of her death and she had been living at the YMCA in downtown Calgary.

She was last seen on the evening of Sept. 15, 1976.

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