BROWNWOOD, Texas - During a press conference on Thursday, Brown County law enforcement revealed they're following up on new leads surrounding the murder of a Lake Brownwood woman.
Chantay Blankinship, 25, was found dead five miles near her Lake Brownwood home on May 15, 2016, two days after she was reported missing. But on Wednesday, the Brown County Sheriff's Office released a computerized image of the possible suspect composed by using DNA evidence they recovered at the scene.
Sheriff Vance Hill said it is a big break in the case.
"This is what I'm calling excellent news in our case," Hill said.
The image is of a white man with blue to green eyes, brown to blond hair, and some freckles. The company created the profile of a 25-year-old, but the sheriff warned that the DNA retracing technology can't pinpoint someone's age.
"This will help us de-prioritize some of the people we've looked at before," said Sgt. Scott Bird, the criminal investigator with BCSO.
Hill and the 35th Judicial District Attorney's Office each pitched in half of the $4,000 it cost to compose the photo using money from a drug-seizure fund.
"I wish we would've solved this case the day we found her," Bird said. "We haven't stopped working on it."
Hill said releasing the image has created several new leads, and investigators were pursuing them Thursday.
"I'm feeling really good about this case coming together," Hill said. "This is the break that we've been needing for over a year now."
Blankinship's parents told KTXS she was sexually assaulted and beaten. But District Attorney Micheal Murray said at the press conference law enforcement can't confirm or deny such information because they need to "protect the integrity of the investigation."
Catherine McDaniel, Blankinship's mother, said the new photo gives her optimism the case will be solved soon.
"I had somebody ask me, would Chantay forgive this person? She would," McDaniel said.
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