Two decades after his wife’s killing, authorities named late Ohio business owner Edward Geddes as the person responsible for the murder of Lina Reyes-Geddes, who was found dead along an interstate highway near Maidenwater Spring, Utah.

Utah police discovered Reyes-Geddes’ body inside a sleeping bag bound by duct tape and rope, wrapped in a carpet and covered with plastic in April of 1998, although they were not able to identify her for years after she was killed.

In 2018, detectives announced a breakthrough in the case — which had been closed, reopened, and taken on by the agents at the State Bureau of Investigation in Utah after a county sheriff’s office could not solve it — when a photo released by Utah state investigators matched one recently added to an updated missing persons file in Youngstown, Ohio. 

The local missing persons file identified Reyes-Geddes by name, since she and her husband were both residents of Youngstown. A relative of Reyes-Geddes then traveled from Mexico to Utah to provide the DNA sample that ultimately allowed investigators to positively identify her body. She was previously known only as the “Maidenwater victim.”

Lina Reyes-Geddes and Edward Geddes are pictured together in this photograph provided by the Utah Department of Public Safety.

Utah Department of Public Safety

Four years later, cooperative efforts by Utah state agents and Youngstown police led Reyes-Geddes’ case to its conclusion. Police explained during a press conference this week that several swabs collected by family members of her former husband allowed them to create a DNA profile for Geddes, which matched DNA that was found on the rope tied around her body. 

They said that more advanced modern technology made this discovery possible, as Geddes’ DNA was compared with some detected on the rope before, but past tests did not produce results because such a small amount of evidence had been left behind.

Geddes, who was briefly made a suspect in his wife’s unsolved case after declining to report her as a missing person, was found dead in 2001 by apparent suicide in Nevada. Police determined at the time that Geddes shot himself.

“It goes to show the science of where we’re at with DNA,” said Utah Department of Public Safety Agent Brian Davis at Wednesday’s press conference, according to CBS affiliate WKBN. Davis added that “it’s very, very fulfilling to be a part of that [solved case] and the people coming together.”

If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or suicidal crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).