Staten Island bishop charged in 40-year-old cold case murder of woman from Brooklyn

EAST FLATBUSH, Brooklyn (WABC) -- A 63-year-old Staten Island bishop has been charged in the 40-year-old cold case murder of a woman from Brooklyn.

Officials say James Burress, 63, was charged on Thursday in the strangulation death of 19-year-old Lorraine Snell, who was found murdered on Sept. 26, 1980.

Burress, the bishop of By Divine Purpose Christian Center, was married to Snell's cousin at the time of the murder.

Officials say the indictment was the result of a thorough investigation of the case and the evidence, which included DNA technology.


"My thoughts today are with Lorraine Snell's mother, Pearl, who has waited decades to see her daughter's killer brought to justice," Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said.

Snell's body was discovered in a parked station wagon behind a C-Town supermarket on Nostrand Avenue in East Flatbush.

According to the investigation, Snell went to the Midwood Terrace catering hall located on Flatbush Avenue to reserve the space for a party for her boyfriend.

Officials say Burress allegedly admitted to police that he was with Snell at the Midwood Terrace and that he walked her part of the way home.

The investigation revealed Burress' DNA to be a positive match with DNA found under Snell's fingernail.

Burress is charged with one count of second-degree murder.

He was not granted bail and is expected back in court in late March.

Burress faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.

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