cold case

Man Pleads Not Guilty In City Heights Woman's 1969 Strangulation

Mary Scott's sister, who was only 16 at the time, reached out to SDPD about her sister's case on the 50th anniversary of her death. less than a year later, an arrest had been made

A 75-year-old eastern Pennsylvania man who was arrested on the East Coast this year for allegedly slaying a City Heights woman at her home more than a half-century ago pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a murder charge.

DNA evidence and forensic genealogy led to the arrest of John Sipos in connection with the death of Mary Scott, who was found strangled in her apartment in the City Heights area of San Diego on Nov. 20, 1969, police said.

Deputy District Attorney Chris Lindberg said Sipos broke into the woman's home, raped and strangled her, breaking her jaw in the process.

Scott failed to show up to her job at a club just blocks away from her home on Nov. 20, so a friend went to check on her. She found Scott laying in the middle of her living room, nude and unconscious.

Scott's sister Rosalie Sanz, who was only 16 at the time, remembers the night her family received the news.

“It was night and the doorbell rang, which was odd," Sanz said. “There were two men wearing suits at the door and I thought this can't be good.”

“I came out of my bedroom and I asked what happened and she [my mom] said ‘Mary was raped and strangled,” added Sanz.

Sanz is now 67 years old, and she hasn't stopped fighting to bring justice to her sister and the two daughters she left behind. 

“I kept reading the last couple years about when they used ancestral or genetic forensics and they were finding these old cold cases and solving them, so I thought they could probably do that with my sister because I know they had DNA,” said Sanz.

Last November, on the 50th anniversary of her sister's death, Sanz reached out once again to SDPD for help finding Scott's killer. 

Police and prosecutors have not commented on a suspected motive for the killing or the relationship, if any, between Sipos and Scott.

San Diego police Lt. Matt Dobbs said that at the time of Scott's death, the case went cold after "investigators exhausted all leads."

The case was later re-evaluated by the cold case units of the San Diego Police Department and San Diego County District Attorney's Office.

DNA allegedly left at the scene and forensic genealogy were used to identify Sipos as Scott's alleged killer.

Sipos was arrested Oct. 24 in Schnecksville, Pennsylvania.

He is being held on $3 million bail and his next court date is a Feb. 4 readiness conference.

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