BONHAM - Deputies from the Fannin County Sheriff's Office discovered misplaced evidence Wednesday morning from the Jennifer Harris-Holman murder case, according to Sheriff Kenneth Moore.
The discovery was made inside one of the two storage containers where evidence is kept, the sheriff said.
"I'm sorry that it took this long, but that's a fact," he said. "It happened. We have the evidence we were looking for now. We have it in our possession."
Harris-Holman, 25, was murdered in 2002. A shirt, bra and jeans believed to be Harris-Holman's were found months later near the Red River, which was where her body was found floating.
New technology exists to test the degraded DNA on the clothing, but for more than a month the Fannin County Sheriff's Office had not been able to locate the evidence and send it away.
It was in a bag by itself with the case number on it, the date it was checked in and when it was opened for the first unsuccessful test at the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Science in Dallas.
Moore said the previous sheriff's administration did not yet use property sheets to track evidence such as the bag of clothing, which was likely the reason it was misplaced. With no tracking device, a lieutenant and an investigator had to go through every box of evidence searching for it.
"I am optimistic that this could be very productive," said Jerry Harris, Harris-Holman's father.
He said he is eager to see what clues, if any, the clothes hold.
Moore kept Harris-Holman's case file on his desk as a reminder of the county's only unsolved murder. He said he has gone back through the cold case personally searching for clues that might have been overlooked.
It's uncertain how crucial the clothing could be in identifying a suspect. Moore and Fannin County District Attorney Richard Glaser said they won't know if it's useful in pinpointing the murderer until it's tested.
A Fort Worth laboratory is among the few places that can test degraded DNA using a Y-STR test, which happens only when a Texas Ranger requests it.
Moore said he will have it tested as soon as possible in either in Tarrant County or out of state.
"At some point, I hope that this case is solved," he said.