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Family pleads for help in 32-year-old cold case

Wednesday - 6/13/2012, 4:17pm  ET

061312_gastelle_191.jpg
Cynthia Joan Gastelle, 18, disappeared from Takoma Park, Md. April 3, 1980. (Photo Courtesy of Prince William County Crime Solvers)
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Hank Silverberg, wtop.com

MANASSAS, Va - Police have uncovered a new lead in a 32-year-old murder case.

Cynthia Gastelle, 18, disappeared from her home in Takoma Park, Md. April 3, 1980. She went for a job interview and never returned.

For years her family knew nothing about what happened to her. But last month new DNA techniques linked her to remains found in a wooded area on Mountain Road in Prince William County.

The victim's older brother, Peter Gastelle, says the family had always hoped she was alive.

"That hope is gone. Our hearts are broken again," he says. "Our hope now lies with you, our neighbors and the community."

Prince William County police are looking for anyone who might know about the teen's last hours, including a former boyfriend they think was named Mike.

He is not considered a suspect. They just want to talk to him, but they don't know here he is.

The victim's remains were found in what was a very remote area just off Route 15 in 1982 and were unidentified for decades. Police say Gastelle did not have any ties to Prince William County and they believe she was brought to the site, though they are not saying if she was killed there or somewhere else.

In 2001, DNA from the case was entered into a national database. It wasn't until the DNA was compared to another missing persons case that it was linked to the teen.

Forensic experts at the Virginia Medical Examiner's office say the DNA techniques used to identify Gastelle's remains did not exist even in 2001.

Anyone who may have information on this case is being asked to call Crime Solvers at 703-670-3700 or 1-866-411-TIPS.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)