Almost 50 years ago, a young couple was found dead, tied to a tree, in the woods near the Durham-Orange County line. The deaths of Jesse McBane, 19, and his girlfriend of three years, Patricia Mann, 20, made national headlines after they disappeared after a Valentine’s dance at Watts Hospital in Durham, where Mann was a student, on the night of Feb. 12, 1971.

“It’s just one of those cases that you can’t let go,” said Major Tim Horne. He’s been working the case for seven of its 47 years, but he is feeling more encouraged now than ever.

Horne and others are using an M-VAC System, one of about 100 in the world, to search the rope that tied the couple for tiny DNA samples that could lead to a killer.

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