Massachusetts authorities on Thursday announced they have a person of interest in the August 2016 slaying of Google employee Vanessa Marcotte

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February 23, 2017 01:43 PM

Massachusetts authorities on Thursday announced they have a person of interest in the August 2016 slaying of Google employee Vanessa Marcotte, whose body was found naked and burned hours after she left her family to go jogging.

Investigators are seeking a Hispanic or Latino man, approximately 30 years old, with an athletic build and average height and a shaved head or very short hair, Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early, Jr. said at a Thursday morning news conference.

Authorities do not yet have a name for this person.

Early described the development as “very significant” and said it was the result of a DNA profile and witness statements.

“We’re very confident in the description that I’ve given you today that this is our person of interest,” he said.

He added that the DNA was not the same as the DNA in the case of Karina Vetrano, a jogger who was killed in New York City days before Marcotte, 27, died. (Police have accused a 20-year-old Brooklyn man of murder in Vetrano’s killing.)

Vanessa Marcotte
David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe/Getty

Early said the person of interest was driving a dark-colored SUV in the area of Marcotte’s death about the time she was reported missing in Princeton, Massachusetts.

She was found dead on Aug. 7, 2016, near Brooks Station Road in Princeton, just a few hours after her family said she went for a jog. Her body was stripped and had burn marks, according to authorities, though her cause of death has not been released.

Marcotte lived in N.Y.C. but returned to Massachusetts for a visit, officials said. A 2011 alum of Boston University, she grew up in nearby Leominster, Massachusetts.

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The person of interest would have had “very obvious” cuts and scratches on or after the day of Marcotte’s death, Early said. “There was a struggle” before she was killed, he said Thursday, but he did not say more, citing the ongoing investigation.

Authorities have said Marcotte fought for her life, but Early declined to say where the person of interest’s DNA was recovered — from Marcotte’s fingernails, for example, or elsewhere.

The person of interest is not to be confronted by the public, Early said. He said the DNA did not return a match in a federal database, though that does not mean the person of interest doesn’t have a criminal background.

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Anyone with information is urged to call the Massachusetts State Police tip line, which is anonymous, at 508-453-7589.

“If you think you have something, give us a call,” Early said.

The Marcotte family declined to comment Thursday on the investigation. In December, they made a public plea for help in the case, saying then, “Not a day goes by we don’t reflect on the enormity of our loss.”

• With reporting by KC BAKER

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