NATIONAL CITY, Calif. (KGTV) – The National City Police Department on Thursday announced an arrest in the 1974 stabbing death of a 7-Eleven worker.
On July 31, 1974, 22-year-old Christy Bryant was working alone at a 7-Eleven store on 702 Highland Ave. when she was stabbed to death by an unknown attacker.
Investigators collected evidence from the crime scene that included the attacker’s blood, even though DNA testing was not available at the time.
The case went cold for several years as attempts to identify the suspect were unsuccessful.
In 2008, the killer’s blood was submitted to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department Crime Lab “for further analysis and entry into CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) and was searched regularly with no hits.”
National City Police stated: “Beginning in 2013, the National City Police Department joined forces with the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office -- Cold Case Homicide Unit to try and solve the case. It was through this partnership as well as advancements in forensic technology related to DNA, that a suspect was identified.”
“It never truly went cold, detectives have always been looking at it, poking at it, evaluating it, reviewing and seeing what can be done,” Sgt. Mark Seagal, the lead detective on the case, said.
According to the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, 69-year-old Carlin Edward Cornett was identified thanks to “an in-house genealogist of the District Attorney’s grant-funded Cold Homicide and Research Genealogy Effort (CHARGE). This is the third case solved under the grant and the first in which the defendant is still alive.”
Cornett was found to be living in Las Vegas, and he was taken into custody on Sept. 14. He was booked into a Las Vegas jail and is expected to be extradited to San Diego to face murder charges, National City Police said.
“It’s a relief, but it’s also unsettling because it’s reliving so much of it,” Holly Bryant, Christy's sister, said.
According to police, Christy Bryant originally came to San Diego in 1971 where she served in the Marine Corps until medically retiring in 1972 as a result of a car accident.
Holly Bryant said she was 20-years-old at the time of her sister’s death, but remembers the gut-wrenching call like it was yesterday.
“It was some despair and disbelief and of course thinking oh no couldn’t be,” she recalled.
Many years passed with no answers.
“My mother has passed, but she never got over that.," Holly said. "She dealt with it but she never… none of us really did get over it.”
However, a day Holly said she never thought would come did, giving the family more peace of mind and hopefully the justice they’ve longed for.
"People have suffered because of her loss," Holly said. "Things she wanted to accomplish and wanted to do, but she was never able to."
"We don’t forget about it and it’s important that people know that the law enforcement agencies will do whatever they can to seek justice on behalf of the family," Seagal said.
Note: The 7-Eleven store where the slaying occurred is no longer there; a Domino’s Pizza now occupies the location.