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Her legs were found 17 years ago in a dumpster. Her husband has now been charged with murder.

Her legs were found 17 years ago in a dumpster. Her husband has now been charged with murder.


A California man has been arrested on suspicion of murdering his wife, the legs of whom were discovered in a dumpster 17 years ago but were not identified until now, KSWB-TV reports.

Investigators claim to have solved the case using the same DNA technology that has led to the resolution of other cold cases across the country.

A pair of legs were discovered in a dumpster behind an apartment complex in Rancho San Diego, California, in October 2003, but authorities were unable to determine their origin at the time.

However, police did not give up and eventually used a genetic genealogy protocol with data from a commercial genealogy company to find a blood relative.

According to the television station, police first located a distant relative of the victim from the nineteenth century, then living relatives, and finally the victim's son, who provided a DNA sample.

The legs belonged to Laurie Diane Potter, who lived in Temecula, California, and went missing in 2003. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, she was 54 years old at the time and was never reported missing.

Investigators quickly zeroed in on Potter's husband, Jack Potter, now 68, who was arrested this week at his Rancho Cucamonga, California, home.

According to Troy DuGall, the case's lead investigator, many of Laurie Potter's relatives lost contact with her years ago and were unaware she had died. They were relieved, however, to learn that her remains had been identified and that her alleged killer had been apprehended, according to KSWB-TV.

“The victim’s family — and I’ve spoken to them — are very happy that I, number one, identified Laurie,” DuGall said at the news conference, according to KSWB-TV. “Because they thought she was just living somewhere. Nobody knew. And they’re extremely happy, once they get over the grief of Laurie being deceased, that we identified and arrested the suspect. So it’s bittersweet.”

Lt. Thomas Seaver of the San Diego County Sheriff's Department described how the investigation unfolded.

“Once we identified Laurie Potter, we went back through her life and tried to identify who she was, where she was living, who were her friends or family during that time frame,” Seaver said, according to KSWB-TV. “This is an ongoing criminal investigation so we can’t go into details, but we determined that there was substantial cause to believe Jack Potter murdered Laurie.”

The genetic genealogy tool is the same method that police used in 2018 to track down the so-called Golden State Killer.

According to Pete Carrillo, a retired homicide detective, told KSWB-TBV that some murderers believe they are too skilled to be caught. “But technology is getting better and detectives are getting better. Their time will come. There will be justice,” Carrillo told the television station.

Authorities are asking anyone with information about the case, or anyone who knew the couple between the mid-1980s and the mid-1990s, to call the San Diego County Sheriff's Homicide Unit at 858-285-6330. Call Crime Stoppers at 888-580-8477 or visit sbcrimestoppers.org to leave an anonymous tip.