EAST SIDE BOROUGH, CARBON COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — New details are emerging from a 1976 cold case murder that police say they have just solved.
Over four decades ago, a teenager discovered the bodies of a 15-year-old girl and her unborn child packed into suitcases along a riverbank. The pair were brutally killed, dismembered and then thrown over the Lehigh River bridge onto the bank below.
“He was telling me that they went down to the river to play and they found these suitcases,” John Sentiwany of White Haven recalled to Eyewitness News.
Police records say the girl was killed by manual strangulation. Her head was severed and nose and ears were cut off along with her arms and legs. Court papers also indicate she had been shot. Her full-term daughter died with her.
Dolly Moughan lives less than a mile away from where the bodies were found. She says she remembers it like it was yesterday.
“Well a knock came at the door and it was the cop and he wanted to know if I had seen anything and it’s ironic because my son and the young fella Kenny Jumper that found her, they were trapping and they would take turns checking their traps,” Moughan said.
Moughan says she had lost hope in ever finding out whose body was left by her home, let alone ever finding a suspect.
“I didn’t think they were ever going to find it because the interstate and the traffic on there coming and going from New Jersey and different places like that,” Moughan said.
Though officials say they followed many tips and leads, they could not identify the remains. In 2007, the body was exhumed for a DNA test but that too yielded no matches to any known missing person.
“It’s a small town, but like I said, it’s just, everybody couldn’t believe. They felt bad for the girl and for the baby. Who could do that to someone like that?” Mougan said.
In 2020, a piece of the girl’s femur was submitted to a lab in Texas where a DNA profile was obtained and a possible link to a living family member was found.
Police say Luis Colon Jr. was contacted by investigators and confirmed that his aunt had gone missing in the 1970s. His father positively confirmed through description that it was his sister, Evelyn Colon whose body was found. She was last seen alive in New Jersey.
Colon then recalled to investigators that the father of the unborn child was Luis Sierra, Evelyn’s then-boyfriend.
Evelyn’s sister, Migdalia Colon was interviewed by investigators. She recalled that in mid-December of 1976 Evelyn told their mother she had not been feeling well and asked for her to bring soup. When the mother arrived at the Jersey City apartment shared by Luis and Evelyn, she found that it had been cleared out. Migdalia told police that Luis had been abusive and jealous, going as far as locking Evelyn in their apartment.
In January of 1977, the Colon family received a letter with no legible return address but stamped in Connecticut. The letter stated in Spanish that Evelyn and the baby were doing well. The letter described the baby as a boy, weighing 9 pounds
Evelyn was never reported missing.
After positively identifying the victim and interviewing the family, police say they turned their investigation towards Luis Sierra.
Sierra was found to be living in Ozone Park, New York. Police say he had initially denied knowing Evelyn but later admitted that he not only knew her but dated her and that she was to have his child. He then reportedly told investigators that he last saw Evelyn in their apartment in Jersey City prior to leaving for work and that when he returned, she was gone.
However, police say he couldn’t explain why he made little to no effort to get into contact with Evelyn and the child after she allegedly moved in with her father. Furthermore, he could not explain the letter, which would have been written after Evelyn’s death.
“It’s a miracle they ever found her, who she was, and them to find the killer is unbelievable,” Sentiwany said.