Colorado investigators announced Tuesday that the likely culprit in the 1993 kidnapping and killing of 5-year-old Alie Berrelez is dead.
Alie Berrelez went missing from the Golden Nugget apartment complex in Englewood on May 18, 1993. She was last seen eating pizza in the building's parking lot, along with other children.
Four days after she went missing, Aurora police found her body, which was stuffed into a duffel bag at the bottom of Deer Creek Canyon in Jefferson County, 14 miles away from her home.
Police believed that the kidnapper had thrown the stuffed bag to the bottom of the 20-foot embankment. They expected that the bag would contain DNA clues about the kidnapper.
Nicholas Stofer, family's neighbor, was identified as the lone suspect during the investigation in 1994 but there was insufficient evidence to file charges against him and his DNA was not been matched to evidence in the case. Stofer died in 2001 at the age of 41, in Phoenix, Arizona.
Englewood Chief of Police John Collins said in a press conference that the suspect lived in the same apartment complex as Allie and her mother. Police said the evidence against Stofer was conditional, including the statement of the victim's 3-year-old brother who might have witnessed the kidnapping.
Investigators took the blood samples and hair samples from Stofer, but there were no DNA testing at that time.
The case was investigated over the span of 18 years and all leads and tips were examined. Lab agents and scientists at the Colorado Bureau of Investigation worked with the evidence collected in this case. As DNA technologies evolved, testing and comparisons of the DNA samples were conducted. The suspect was identified by means of a DNA profile match, finally bringing an end to the case.
We had to wait 18 years for forensic science to catch up to the evidence we had on hand, Collins said. Our case will be closed knowing that Nicholas Stofer was the individual that caused the disappearance and death of Alie Barrelez.