50 Year Old Cold Case Cracked

Josie Klakström

It took five decades but the mystery is finally solved.


Mary Scott via The New York Times

When Mary “Lucky” Scott failed to turn up to work on the 20th November 1969, her friends and colleagues were immediately worried.

Leaving high school at 17, Mary married her Navy husband and they had two daughters. The family moved to Louisiana and then out to California where they settled. The couple’s marriage fragmented and they divorced soon after, with Mary leaving the family home.

Concerned with her absence, Mary’s friend went to her apartment, which was a few blocks away from the Star and Garter club. She found the door to her apartment kicked in and Mary’s naked and lifeless body lying on the floor, amongst overturned furniture. She had been viciously assaulted before she was strangled to death.

Her daughters were safe and with her ex-husband’s parents, but they wouldn’t find out the truth about their mother’s murder for decades.

It took 51 years, but Mary’s murderer was finally identified in October.


Mary Scott original 1969 newspaper clipping via CBS8.com

On Tuesday the 27th October, San Diego police announced that they had arrested a 75-year-old man on suspicion of Mary’s murder. John Jeffrey Sipos from Schnecksville, Pennsylvania had just left the Navy and was living in San Diego when he attacked Mary.

Rosalie Sanz was just a teenager when her big sister was killed and is now in her sixties;

“It is nice to be able to speak for her after all this time. The big headline was ‘Go-go girl found dead.’ There was a little more to her than a ‘go-go girl,’” — Rosalie Sanz in The San Diego Union-Tribune

Sipos, who was in his mid-twenties when he raped and killed Mary, left behind evidence at the crime scene. His preserved DNA was run through genealogy databases and investigators quickly found a match.

The case was reopened 50 years after Mary’s death in 2019, when Rosalie contacted her friend, a retired police officer, who offered his contacts and services.

Due to Covid-19, it may be a while before Sipos is sentenced but his arrest is a step in the right direction, to get another cold case off the table. He awaits extradition in Lehigh County jail, Pennsylvania.

“This guy got to live 51 years free and easy, and she got those years taken from her,” — Rosalie Sanz

Mary Scott is survived by one of her daughters, Donna. Mary’s older daughter, Christine died in a car crash in 1993.

Using genealogy to crack cold cases is becoming a more frequently used method across the U.S with the identification of the Golden State Killer in 2018. That year alone, 28 cases were solved using familial DNA and the number is rising. In 2019, GEDmatch.com updated its privacy agreement, where users have to opt-in to give law enforcement access to their information.

Is genealogy privacy going to hinder cold case investigation in the future, or should users be grateful for this level of confidentiality in a generation of data piracy?

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Josie Klakström is a true crime writer. Follow her at truecrimeedition.com


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