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Las Vegas police attempt to link more cold cases to man accused of killing two in '70s, '80s

Kim Bryant cold case
Posted at 6:05 PM, Dec 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-09 20:33:33-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department is reopening five cold cases from the '70s and '80s where women were sexually assaulted and murdered following revelations that a man named Johnny Blake Peterson was responsible for two assaults and killings in the same time period in Las Vegas.

Lt. Ray Spencer with LVMPD Homicide announced in late November that Peterson's DNA was linked to the death of 16-year-old Western High School Student Kim Bryant, who was abducted, sexually assaulted, and killed in 1979.

READ: Las Vegas police identify suspect in high school student's 1979 murder

On Monday, Spencer said the same DNA profile used to crack Bryant's case was compared to DNA collected in the assault and killing of 22-year-old Diana Hanson in 1983, and the laboratory returned a positive match.

He said the same morning they announced the resolution of Bryant's case, an anonymous tipster told detectives Peterson had owned some of Hanson's belongings. That led detectives to request a direct comparison to the DNA sequence used in Bryant's case.

MORE: Suspect in high school student's 1979 murder linked to another Las Vegas cold case

Police attempt to link five more cold cases to man accused of killing two women in 70s and 80s

Spencer cautioned against using the term "serial killer" before the DNA comparisons could be made — despite the high number of potentially connected murders.

"There's nothing that links him to those five," he said, "but we do have five women who were sexually assaulted and killed in the late '70s and early '80s, and we want to see if he is, in fact, a suspect, or is he not."

Bryant's case was blown open when a donation from local philanthropist Justin Woo allowed police to send DNA evidence to Othram Labs in Texas for new analysis and genealogical comparisons to Peterson's distant family members.

Peterson died in 1993, so no arrest will be made for the murders of Bryant and Hanson.