Family asking for new forensics tool to be used on cold case of Allison Foy

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - It's a story we have been bringing you now for over a decade.

In 2008, the remains of two women were found deep in the woods off Carolina Beach Road. Those bodies were later identified as 34-year-old Allison Foy and 42-year-old Angela Rothen.

It's a case that has been cold for a while, but it's one Allison's family members aren't giving up on.

The pain of the loss lingers every day for Allison's sister Lisa Valentino, as does the fact that justice has still not been served.

"I believe if she were alive today she would be teaching or coaching gymnastics or dance," Valentino said.

In 2016, Detective Lee Odham with the Wilmington Police Department told WECT's Marissa Hundley that he believes Foy and Rothen were murdered by the same person. Odham is no longer a detective on the case.

District Attorney Ben David has stated that there is not enough evidence to move forward in this case.

"I can't give up because of the love I have for my sister and I believe in justice and seeing things through to the end," said Valentino.

Valentino has seen nothing but dead ends on the road to fighting for justice, but now there may be a new glimmer of hope.

"There is a part of my heart that can't be settled until all of this is over," Valentino said.

That's where a new tool comes in: the M-VAC system, a forensics tool invented in 2007 first for the food industry to pull E. coli and Salmonella off of surfaces.

For the past several years, the MVAC system has been used like a wet vacuum that can pull decades old DNA from virtually anything.

"T-shirts, bed sheets, underwear, brick, ropes, socks, sweatshirts, river rocks, toy stuffed animals, ski masks, halter tops, zip ties, wigs, towels," M-VAC founder Wayne Carlsen said of some of the items the technology is used for.

The Wilmington Police Department has jewelry and articles of clothing found near the murder scene that may still contain Foy's DNA.

"There are few things that bring people like myself hope and this is one of them," Valentino said. "I want to exhaust all things in our power to have resolution and bring someone to justice."

The M-VAC has helped solve dozens of cold cases, most recently a 40-year-old cold case in Utah and one in 1995 where DNA was pulled from a granite rock.

"Every case we solve, we rejoice. It's a triumph for us and for families that get a positive outcome," Carlsen said.

"When you hear about 40-year-old cases that are being solved, you want the opportunity to have something like that done on your case as well," Valentino said. "It's a great tool."

Only 35 agencies across the country have the M-VAC. The closest to Wilmington is in Richlands County, South Carolina.

Valentino has secured the funding, which could be several thousand dollars, all in the hopes of finally getting closure.

"This is kind of like an answer to a prayer," she said.

WPD spokesperson Linda Rawley released this statement:

"We are committed to utilizing every opportunity and resource to solve the Allison Foy case and bring the individual or individuals responsible for this murder to justice. Our investigators have remained in contact with the family of Ms. Foy and will continue to work to help solve this case. While we do not have an accredited DNA lab internally, we are willing to work with an accredited outside agency to provide lab testing on case evidence."

The cost to bring the technology to an agency like WPD is around $35,000.

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