Julie Esther Hawkins

Julie Esther Hawkins

Julie Esther Hawkins was only 16 years old when she was strangled to death in 1973. Her murder remains a mystery.

But thanks to a $10,100 grant awarded to the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office 48 years later, Hawkins’ cold case has been reopened with the help of new DNA technology.

The grant was awarded by Season of Justice (SOJ), a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing funding to law enforcement agencies and families to help solve cold cases. SOJ provides grants for advanced DNA testing, including forensic genealogy and next-generation sequencing.

Hawkins’ body was found in a wooded area near Clodine Road and FM 1464 in Fort Bend County on Dec. 8, 1973.

The autopsy confirmed she had been strangled.

Now, a search for new leads is underway.

The Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office plans to conduct additional DNA testing using Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) in order to obtain a full DNA profile.

Such state-of-the-art technology was not available in the 1970s.

Fort Bend County Sheriff Eric Fagan said the combination of breakthrough DNA technology and persistent investigative efforts offers a ray of hope in solving the case.“We pray that this revolutionary technology will bring us one step closer to solving this case and bringing closure,” said Sheriff Fagan. “The Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office continues to aggressively investigate violent crime cases dating back to the early ‘70s.”

Anyone who may have information about this case or any other FBCSO case is asked to contact FBCSO’s Robbery/Homicide Unit at 281-341-4665 or Fort Bend County Crime Stoppers at 281-342-TIPS (8477). Fort Bend County Crime Stoppers will pay an anonymous cash reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and filling of charges for any felony crime.

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