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Las Vegas man, 68, is arrested in 47-year-old cold-case murder of a 7-Eleven clerk

A 68-year-old Las Vegas man was arrested in the cold-case murder of a 22-year-old  7-Eleven clerk in California 47 years ago after new DNA analysis technology led to a break in the case.

Police arrested Carlin Edward Cornett on September 14 at his Nevada home in connection to the 1974 stabbing of Marine Corps veteran Christy Bryant. 

Bryant had been working alone during the early morning shift at a 7-Eleven location on Highland Avenue in National City on July 31 when police say she was brutally stabbed to death. 

She had moved to San Diego in 1971 where she served in the Marine Corps, but was medically discharged in 1972 after she was injured in a car crash, police said. 

The 7-Eleven location where the stabbing took place is now a Dominos pizza.

Christy Bryant

Police arrested Carlin Edward Cornett, 68, (left) in connection to the 1974 stabbing of 7-Eleven clerk Christy Bryant after advances in DNA testing led to a break in the case 

A subsequent investigation of the killing yielded no leads, and the case went cold, but police had collected blood samples from the suspect at the scene.

At the time, however, DNA testing wasn’t available, according to National City Investigations Lt. Derek Aydelotte. 

‘Throughout the years, different NCPD detectives looked at the case, but no firm leads were developed,’ Aydelotte said in a statement.

In 2008 the blood was entered into the Combined DNA Index System, or CODIS, but didn’t turn up any results, according to KVVU

‘The DNA profile from the blood evidence remained in the system and was searched regularly with no hits,’ Aydelotte said.

Police had collected blood samples from the scene of the stabbing, a 7-Eleven in National City, but DNA testing was not available at the time, and the case went cold. The location is now a Dominos Pizza

Police had collected blood samples from the scene of the stabbing, a 7-Eleven in National City, but DNA testing was not available at the time, and the case went cold. The location is now a Dominos Pizza 

In 2012 detectives with National City police requested that San Diego Sheriff’s Office perform a Y-STR analysis on the blood, which is typically used in familial DNA testing, Oxygen reported. 

The Christy Bryant murder case: a timeline

1974: Christy Bryant is stabbed to death while working the morning at a 7-Eleven in National City

2008: DNA evidence from blood collected at the scene is entered into the CODIS database 

2012: Investigators perform a Y-STR genealogical analysis on the blood

2012, 2015, 2016: Follow-up genealogical searches yield no suspects

2013: National City police team up with the San Diego District Attorney to join its cold case DNA research program

2021: A further test and genealogy search identifies Carlin Cornett, 68, as a suspect in the killing 

The California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Forensic Services performed follow-up familial DNA searches 2012, 2015, and 2016 but they too were unsuccessful.

In 2013, however, National City police joined forces with the San Diego County District attorney’s office in a partnership that would eventually pay off. 

‘It never truly went cold, detectives have always been looking at it, poking at it, evaluating it, reviewing and seeing what can be done,’ police Sgt. Mark Seagal, who worked as the lead detective in the case said. 

Through the DA’s grant-funded Cold Homicide Research Genealogy Effort, or CHARGE, and further advances in DNA testing technology, an in-house genealogist with the DA was able to identify Cornett, according to ABC10

Cornett’s is the third case solved using CHARGE, and the first who was still alive. The DA reported. 

Cornett, who who operates a insurance liability inspection company in Nevada, is expected to be extradited to San Diego to face murder charges. 

Bryant’s sister, Holly, says she was 20 at the time of Christy’s slaying, and has never gotten over the shock.

‘It was some despair and disbelief and of course thinking, “oh no couldn’t be,”‘ she told ABC10.  

She described her as ‘very friendly’ and ‘always helpful,’ and noted that she still calls her other sister, Tari, each year on Christy’s birthday.

After multiple DNA searches, authorities were finally able to identify Cornett, and police arrested him at his home in Las Vegas (pictured) on September 14

After multiple DNA searches, authorities were finally able to identify Cornett, and police arrested him at his home in Las Vegas (pictured) on September 14

‘We think about her a lot,’ she told KSWB.

 ‘My mother has passed, but she never got over that,’ she said. ‘She dealt with it but she never… none of us really did get over it. 

‘People have suffered because of her loss,’ she added. ‘Things she wanted to accomplish and wanted to do, but she was never able to.’

 After nearly half a century, however, she hopes justice can finally be served.  

‘I do want him to pay for what he did,’ she said. ‘And I hope his family can accept it as well.’   


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