It took DNA detective just 2 days to identify alleged killer in 1994 Waikiki cold case

It took two days for a world-renowned “DNA detective” to crack a Waikiki murder that had gone unsolved for nearly three decades.
Published: Apr. 15, 2022 at 4:40 PM HST|Updated: Apr. 15, 2022 at 5:19 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It took two days for a world-renowned “DNA detective” to crack a Waikiki murder that had gone unsolved for nearly three decades.

According to HPD, Cecil Trent allegedly used a telephone cord to strangle Lisa Fracassi to death in her Nahua Street apartment back in 1994. The 37-year-old worked as an exotic dancer.

Her body was discovered by a maid delivering towels at a Nahua Street apartment hotel.

Reports said a “do not disturb” sign had been hanging on the door for several days.

At the time, a detective told the media in an on camera interview, “No one heard any suspicious activity or noises.” According to law enforcement sources, the killer had stuffed a sheet in the victim’s mouth and strangled her to death with a telephone cord.

Authorities say they've solved the 1994 murder in Waikiki of an exotic dancer thanks to advances in DNA technology. The suspect died in 2013.

Detectives collected a used condom and a cigarette butt from the scene, sources said.

It was DNA pulled from the evidence that ― decades later ― led investigators to Trent.

“It took me by surprise today. I didn’t know it was going to be announced,” said CeCe Moore, chief genetic genealogist for Parabon Nanolabs.

She told HNN it was gratifying to have a hand in closing the cold case.

“My job is comparing this DNA to the genealogy database. And then working with public records to learn more about the families who share DNA with them,” she said.

Moore used the same techniques used to identify the Golden State killer in 2018.

They’re techniques Moore herself developed.

Honolulu police say they've made a break in a 1994 cold case murder.

She says she got the Fracassi case in October 2020. Two days later, she’d identified Trent as the suspect.

“It’s important to remember what I do is just a tip,” Moore said. “It’s a highly scientific tip but there’s no arrest based on genetic genealogy. We then hand that information over to law enforcement.”

Sources say HPD was able to match Trent’s fingerprint to one investigators lifted from the telephone at the crime scene.

Detectives then collected a new sample from one of Trent’s close relatives, and revealed DNA from the condom and the cigarette were a match.

“We won’t see justice in this case since he can’t be arrested and tried. But hopefully it provides some answers to those who cared about her and loved her,” Moore said.

HPD confirms the Trent died in 2013.

Sources tell HNN the Trent was never a suspect in the initial investigation. His relationship to Fracassi remains unknown.

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