2012-02-23 / Local & State

Sen. Casey Asks FBI For Help On W. Pa. Cold Case

AMBRIDGE, Pa. (AP) – A U.S. senator is hoping the FBI might help close the case of a western Pennsylvania girl who's been missing since 1958 and has since been legally declared dead by a court.

Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa. sent the letter to the FBI after reading a recent story about 15-year-old Rebecca Triska's disappearance in the Beaver County Times, the newspaper reported Friday.

Police identified a 26-yearold man named Frank Senk as a suspect and found strands of red hair and blood in his car after witnesses said they saw Triska riding in an older man's car shortly after leaving a teen dance on Sept. 19, 1958. Senk explained away the findings by saying the blood was his own and that the hair likely came from his three nieces who, like Triska, were redheads.

Criminal science available at the time wasn’t able to disprove that and Senk was never charged with harming Triska, though he was eventually convicted of the 1961 murder of a 13-year-old girl in Centralia. Senk, a door-todoor knife salesman who was on parole for a Florida morals charge when Triska disappeared, died serving a life sentence in the 1990s.

“Solving a case like this, I think it provides some peace of mind or closure, even if the perpetrator is dead,” Casey told the newspaper. “Just closing the loop or getting a final determination would be best for the community, the family; and maybe the wonders of technology can help solve this once and for all.”

A spokesman for the FBI's Pittsburgh field office had no immediate comment on Casey’s letter.

“State and local facilities lack the necessary technology to process this relevant sample of DNA and federal resources can play a crucial role in solving this case,” Casey wrote.

Beaver County District Attorney Anthony Berosh said detectives sent the hair samples from Senk's car to a private lab to see if they could be matched to hair taken from Triska’s hairbrush about the time she disappeared. That lab was unable to gather any DNA from either sample because of how the hair was handled over the years.

Berosh said nobody did anything wrong to the hair samples, but evidence protocols were just different at that time because the same sophisticated technology didn’t exist.

Berosh said he’s “hoping against hope” that newer FBI technologies may find a DNA match to Senk and enable his office to close the case.

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