Break in Las Vegas cold case leaves detectives and family hopeful

Theresa Insana is shown in an undated image.

There’s been a major break in a cold case that’s left friends and family grieving and wondering for nearly 13 years. Someone strangled 26-year-old Theresa Insana in 2004. Now, thanks to new technology, detectives may know what her new killer looks like.

Police believe someone strangled Insana in her Summerlin home and then dumped her body in a drainage area near Hualapai and Peace Way.

FOX5 talked to retired Senior Crime Scene Analyst, Yolanda McClary, who worked Insana's case for many years. She did the autopsy, and she said Insana fought back. The suspect's blood was found in Insana's home and on her clothes. The DNA never matched any suspect or anyone in the system, but now, new technology called DNA Phenotyping has made it possible to generate a picture of what this suspect would look like.

McClary said she remembers every detail in Theresa’s case.

“You had this incredible girl who moves here from New York after she graduates college with a best friend. She wants to come to Vegas she thinks it's exciting, She has a great life here, She was once engaged, and then all the sudden she's murdered,” McClary said, “The questions is just ‘why?’”

McClary said as the months went on and the DNA didn’t match, the case was eventually moved to the cold case division.

“Those kind of things bother me too that I mean really you're at a dead end wall, there's like nothing else we can do? And for the longest time that was the case,” McClary said.

That was the case, until recently.

“A new DNA [technology advancement], as with anything technology grows and grows and forensics definitely does,” McClary said.

McClary started studying a new advancement called DNA Phenotyping. It can build a picture of what someone looks like, almost exactly, just based on DNA.

“Immediately I thought about Theresa Insana's case,” McClary said.

She says she brought the idea to Metro, and they agreed to use it in Theresa’s case. McClary says she’s very confident the image is spot on to the killer’s image. It shows a mostly southeast Asian man with dark hair and dark eyes.

Now, after thirteen years, a family has hope that someone may recognize the person who killed Insana.

“We have something new now. So we have something to put us on the right track. Are we gonna have to go back and look at everything again? Yeah, we are. But, at least now we know what we're looking for. So we know we're not just looking for a male, we're looking for this male,” McClary said.

McClary actually had one of these DNA images made of herself to test the accuracy. She says it was spot on in her coloring, face shape, all of her features, almost identical to her. The only thing she said the DNA can’t get a read on are fat cells. So the image produced will be that of an average sized person, but the suspect could be heavier or thinner.

If you recognize the man in the sketch, please contact Metro immediately.

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