By Caroline Vandergriff

BEDFORD, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – The family of a North Texas woman who was murdered in her own apartment finally has some closure, 35 years after her death.

Photo of Janet Love’s apartment in 1986, the scene of the crime (credit: Bedford Police Department)

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The Bedford Police Department was able to solve Janet Love’s case this year thanks to new technology and the work of a forensic genealogist.

“I’m very thankful that she wasn’t forgotten,” said Rebecca Roberts, Love’s sister. “She loved to cut up and joke around and make people laugh.”

Roberts said Love grew up in a big family in Louisiana, and her work as a ticket agent for Delta Airlines brought her to Texas.

In April 1986, Love was working the 3 p.m. to midnight shift at DFW Airport.

“She had come home from that shift, and that’s when we believe she was attacked, shortly after she came home,” said Sgt. Brett Bowen with the Bedford Police Department.

According to investigators, the 32-year-old was sexually assaulted before she was shot and killed.

“I had a hard time wrapping my mind around it,” Roberts said. “I had a hard time believing it. It just didn’t seem real.”

Over the next three decades, detectives never closed Love’s file.

“This case has always been assigned to a detective, ever since 1986,” Sgt. Bowen said. “We never stopped investigating this case.”

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But they could never pinpoint a suspect.

“We all had to find a way to sort of resolve ourselves to the reality that we may never have any answers, that we may never know what happened,” said Roberts.

Everything changed when the Bedford Police Department received a federal grant in late 2020 to conduct forensic genetic genealogy testing of the suspect’s DNA sample.

Detectives were able to use the DNA profile to create a family tree of the suspect, with the help of a genealogist, which led them to a name – Ray Anthony Chapa.

According to police, he lived less than 1,000 feet from Love in a neighboring apartment complex at the time of her murder.

Chapa died earlier this year of a terminal illness.

Detectives have already been able to connect him to other sexual assaults in North Texas and are now working with the FBI to see if Chapa attacked more victims in Chicago and Montana, where he also lived.

“They all deserve to feel some closure and some sense of justice in this and I hope they get that,” Roberts said.

She’s grateful Bedford police never gave up on her sister.

“She had her whole life in front of her,” said Roberts. “If she were still with us today, she’d only be 68.”

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If you have any additional information about other crimes Chapa may have committed, please call the Bedford Police Department at 817-952-2272.

Caroline Vandergriff