Unsolved: Can DNA unlock the mystery of who killed Theresa Corley?

BELLINGHAM, Mass. — Theresa Corley was just 19 years old when she was strangled and her naked body was found on the side of Route 495 in Bellingham.

There has never been an arrest for Corley's 1978 murder.

But in May, Massachusetts State Police investigators exhumed Theresa's remains in the hopes that Theresa's killer may have left behind critical forensic evidence.

Boston 25 News was at the scene in Milford's St. Mary's Cemetery when Theresa Corley's casket was raised from the grave and a Massachusetts State Police Crime Lab technician carefully collected evidence from Theresa's body.

Investigators believe Theresa Corley was sexually assaulted.  If Theresa was able to fight back, the killer's DNA might still be buried with her.

Theresa's family was told, among the evidence collected from Theresa's body that day and sent away for analysis, nine and a half of Theresa's finger nails.

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Boston 25 News recently interviewed Dr. Robin Cotton, Boston University's Director of Biomedical Forensic Science to find out if it is possible that, after nearly 40 years, DNA evidence might still exist.

"It all depends on how many cells were there, and what condition they are in now," Dr. Cotton said.

In 1995, Dr. Cotton testified for the prosecution about DNA evidence in the internationally watched trial of former NFL star OJ Simpson's double murder trial.

In the 22 years since the OJ case, DNA technology has considerably advanced.

"From 39 years ago (when Theresa was killed) until now, we are in the best place we can be (for DNA advances)" Cotton said. "It's going to be very difficult to know what they can get, until somebody tries," she added.

Theresa Corley's family knows there is no guarantee the exhumation alone will solve this heartbreaking case.

Theresa's sister, Geri Houde, told Boston 25 News the exhumation is a step that needed to be taken.

"We've always wanted to do the right thing by her," said Houde. "The people that are out there that thought we forgot about what happened to Theresa, will realize we haven't forgotten her."

If you have any information about the murder of Theresa Corley, called the Massachusetts State Police at (617) 593-8840.

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