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DNA Evidence Found by Berks District Attorney Leads to Arrest in 2012 Cold Case Homicide

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John Adams, the district attorney for Berks County, provided an important update today on a horrifying 2012 West Reading homicide case.

Vallis Slaughter, 39, was captured by officials on Wednesday in Jersey City, New Jersey, following an investigation that lasted over 12 years. They claim he is accountable for the shooting death of 34-year-old Julio “Tito” Torres at the West Reading Diner parking lot.

A week after the incident, Torres unfortunately passed away from a gunshot wound to the head. Jomaine Case was not named as the shooter, although preliminary investigations suggested he was involved. Later, the case was found guilty of assault.

DA Adams revealed that the suspects’ identities were mostly determined by the CCTV footage taken at the scene. But it wasn’t until recently that a breakthrough was made thanks to DNA evidence found in styrofoam cups that were taken from the crime site.

“We were able to identify Torres and Case’s DNA through careful analysis, but we were still unable to identify the third participant,” Adams said in a press briefing.

Researchers looked into the case again because of developments in DNA technology and the 2023 Cold Case Initiative. Authorities recognized Slaughter as a suspect based on a 2012 smartphone photo and facial recognition software.

Slaughter, who was born in Brooklyn, New York, was found living with family in Jersey City, New Jersey. Officers were able to collect a DNA sample from a discarded cigarette butt through surveillance in February 2024, and that sample eventually matched DNA discovered on the styrofoam cup from the crime site.

Numerous charges,
including first-degree murder, third-degree murder, criminal conspiracy, aggravated assault, and possession of criminal tools, are currently being brought against Vallis Slaughter. Adams also verified that Slaughter was a suspect in another Brooklyn homicide case.

This arrest provides closure to a community troubled by a protracted cold case and represents a major achievement in the quest of justice for Julio Torres. Watch 69 News for further developments on this unfolding story.

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