Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Murder of Brianna Denison

A Body is Found

By the third week in the search for Denison, Reno police estimated that they had received more than 1,000 tips that they were continuing to pursue. However, on Saturday, February 16, 2008, their search for Denison came to an end. A woman's body found lying in a field in South Reno the previous day was positively identified as Brianna Denison. According to the autopsy report, she died of strangulation. Because the area had previously been covered in snow, police believe the body had been there for more than a week, possibly longer. The location was about eight miles from Hunter's home where Denison had last been seen.

Thong underwear found with Brianna's body
Thong underwear found with Brianna's body
Two pairs of women's thong-style panties were found beneath one of Denison's legs, containing male and female DNA profiles that did not match Denison's DNA profile. One of the panties, however, contained the same DNA profile of the still-unidentified attacker.

Swabs taken from the victim revealed the presence of sperm, and DNA tests showed that the profile obtained from the sperm was consistent with the unknown male profile that had been obtained from the rear door of the house from which Denison had been abducted and with that obtained from the two prior attacks. There was no longer any question that Reno had a serial rapist on its hands, one that had escalated to homicide.

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