On The Case With Paula Zahn is investigating the savage murder of Marsi Belecz, a runaway schoolgirl who was raped and butchered by Clayton C. Giese near her home in Spokane, Washington.
The officers were particularly shocked by the ferocity of this murder of a 12-year-old girl, but despite throwing countless resources into the case, it remained unsolved for decades.
On August 3, 1985, Marsi Belecz ran away from home after becoming upset following her father’s hurtful comments about her outfit. She was reported as missing the following day.
Tragically, her mutilated remains were found two days later in a towing yard near her home. She had been raped and stabbed multiple times, and her throat had been slit. She had over 30 stab wounds on her chest and head.
The investigators were struck by the lack of defensive wounds meaning that she had been unable to fight back.
At the time, investigators identified 87 possible suspects, but despite hundreds of interviews and extensive detective work, the case lay unsolved for nearly 35 years.
DNA evidence revealed Clayton Giese as the killer
Finally, in 2019, there was a massive breakthrough in the case. A cold case squad gave a DNA sample from the crime scene to a Virginia DNA Technology company who inputted it into a genealogy website.
The results from the database clearly pointed to Clayton C. Giese as being the likely killer. At the time of the murder, Giese had been 22 years old and was living in Spokane.
However, the police could not take him in for questioning as Giese had lost his life in a car crash in 1989. The detectives received permission from his relatives to dig up his corpse to see if it matched the DNA. And it was one of the closest matches ever seen by investigators in a case like this.
Giese hadn’t been one of the original 87 suspects, and it’s still unclear how he came across Marsi. It’s unknown if he just stumbled across the schoolgirl in the towing yard or if he had befriended her (or worse, kidnapped her) in the previous days.
More from On The Case With Paula Zahn
Follow the links to read about more murders investigated by Paula Zahn.
In another case involving a schoolgirl, 13-year-old Christina Williams was walking her dog in a secluded area near Seaside, California, when she was attacked and murdered by serial sex offender Charles Holifield. The killer avoided detection for two years until DNA evidence tracked him down.
Minerva Cantu was a young mother of two from Lake Worth, Florida, in 1990, when Jefer Negron burst into her home and suffocated her to death before stealing her jewelry. It then took 26 years of hard work to finally bring him to justice.
On The Case With Paula Zahn airs at 10/9c on investigation Discovery.