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Miami Valley Murder Mysteries: Who killed Patricia Peck?

DAYTON — Patricia Peck was a mother, a business owner, and a caring friend. Now, 16 years after her murder, her friends haven’t given up hope of seeing Peck’s killer brought to justice.

Cold Case detectives told News Center 7′s Cheryl McHenry evidence found on her body may still yield some DNA to help them solved this latest Miami Valley Murder Mystery.

One unique clue, that had been placed there by her killer, could confirm that person’s identity.

The airport is a lively place with flights taking off and cars going in and out. It’s not a place you’d expect to find the body of a missing woman.

>> Miami Valley Murder Mystery: New evidence could lead to break in 30-year cold case murder

Retired Dayton Police homicide detective Doyle Burke said he believes Peck’s body had been at the airport the whole time.

Ron Rohling was a close friend of fellow hairstylist Peck’s who owned a salon in Butler Township.

“Patty was just easy to get to know, very easy,” Rohling said.

He described her as a multi-talented intelligent woman who loved cats and making people happy.

“She was that kind of person, just loved having fun and in her salon, she was so good to her employees, very generous,” Rohling said.

He was one of the last people to see Peck alive in February 2007.

“I had seen her on the Friday night before she went missing just for a few minutes. She told me she had plans with her son.” He knew immediately something was wrong when he learned Peck didn’t show up for work the next day.

“It was something that was just completely out of her character to do anything like that without telling someone else because she was just not that kind of person,” Rohling said.

Nearly two weeks later, on March 8, 2007, someone spotted Peck’s car in a parking lot at Dayton International Airport.

“Parked legally in a transient lot. Nobody paid it any attention.” Burke said.

Inside the car was her body, covered with blankets and a towel, and stuffed on the rear seat floor.

Burke said, “she was strangled and blunt force trauma to the head, so she was beaten and strangled.” He is now working with the Cold Case Unit to take a fresh look at her murder and said he believes it was a crime of passion.

“She was 62 years old; she’s not going to put up that much of a fight, especially if she’s caught off-guard, strangled,” Burke said.

Detectives have re-submitted evidence found at the scene to Ohio’s Bureau of Criminal Investigations lab, including a white plastic bag that covered her head.

“If it’s someone close to the deceased, they’ll cover their face with something, so they don’t have to see what they’ve done,” Burke said.

Investigators also recovered a hair that was stuck between her fingers by dried blood.

According to Burke, “Up until recently, we were not able to do anything with a hair unless it had a follicle. Now we can.”

The most intriguing clue that was found was a imitation rose wrapped in plastic that was found on top of Peck’s body.

“In my mind, that had to be laid there by her assailant,” Burke said.

News Center 7′s Cheryl McHenry asked, “What makes you think after all these years, that evidence is enough to help you solve the case?”

“The things we’re doing today, the labs are doing today with DNA was never even in your mind back then so that gives us a huge advantage,” Burke said.

It’s an advantage they believe can help them bring charges against a person they’ve identified as a suspect.

“Once that DNA comes back, the unknown DNA comes back, we will be able to compare that against our suspect and see where that leads us,” Burke said.

Rohling hopes it will answer the question that’s never left his mind. “Why would you to that to this person? She was wonderful. She wouldn’t hurt anybody. Why would you do that?”

Burke is confident this mystery can be solved. “Oh absolutely. I firmly believe that it can be, and it will be.”

He said it’s never too later to solve a murder.

This Sunday would have been Peck’s 78th birthday. If you have any information about her murder, you are urged to call the Dayton Police Cold Case Unit at 937-333-7109 or Crimestoppers at 937-222-STOP.

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