Fresh DNA evidence testing gave closure to a 1991 New Jersey cold case murder. It has cleared a man twice who was falsely accused of killing a 58-year-old woman, prosecutors said Friday.

Police found Christa Engel lying dead under a ramp at the Asbury Park Boardwalk near Fourth Avenue on March 27, 1991. A medical examiner later confirmed that Engel was beaten and sexually assaulted before being strangled to death, Monmouth County Prosecutor’s office, said in a statement.

Police could not find any immediate kin of Engel at that time to contact and break the news of her murder.

Kevin W. Wallace was charged for the crime a few weeks later and held on a $500,000 bond. However, prosecutors acquitted him following the failure to match the DNA sample on the victim’s body, stockings, slip and dress with that of the accused. Engel's case turned cold thereafter.

In 2001, the prosecutor’s office submitted the DNA samples from the victim’s body to New Jersey State Police lab for reanalyzing. The office potentially matched the samples with Clarence W. Turnage, a man who lived just 300 yards from where Engel’s body was found, through Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), a national DNA database maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Turnage died in 2014, according to the statement.

In 2018, the prosecutor’s office created a Cold Case Unit, where they listed Engel’s case as "one of several cases selected for immediate review."

In February 2019, Bode’s forensic testing confirmed Turnage was the contributor of the DNA evidence collected from Engel’s dress, stockings, and body.

Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni aims to convey fresh information to the victim’s family. "It is hoped that with the release of this information and the conclusion of this investigation, a family member of Ms. Engel may come forward," he said. A DNA testing kit; part of the research was compiled by volunteers who had signed up through commercial DNA testing company 23andMe A DNA testing kit; part of the research was compiled by volunteers who had signed up through commercial DNA testing company 23andMe Photo: AFP / Eric BARADAT