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Monroe — The theft of a backpack in an unrelated case more than two months ago may have provided police with important evidence allegedly connecting a Newport man to the murder of a young Monroe woman.

Investigators say DNA taken after the arrest of Daniel Allan Clay, 27, for the May 10 theft of the backpack is what led them to him as a suspect in connection with the killing of Chelsea Bruck, 22, according to a published report in The Monroe News. Bruck disappeared after a Halloween party nearly two years ago.

Monroe County Prosecutor William Paul Nichols said investigators were aided in their probe of Bruck’s killing by a 2015 law that allows police to take DNA from people who are arrested.

Nichols told The Monroe News that if investigators did not have the new DNA law available Clay of Newport would “still be out there walking around.” Clay was charged Monday with second-degree murder in Bruck’s death.

State police told the sheriff’s office that Clay’s DNA matched DNA found on Bruck’s Poison Ivy Halloween costume. The Monroe News reported Wednesday that Clay was arrested in May in the theft of tattoo equipment.

Bruck was last seen at a Halloween party in Frenchtown Township Oct. 26, 2014. Her skeletal remains were found six months later, on April 24, 2015, about 12 miles away in a wooded lot on Briar Hill in Ash Township.

The Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office has ruled her death a homicide and that the cause of death was blunt-force trauma to the head.

Monroe police are expected to release more details about the alleged DNA connection to Bruck’s murder.

Clay is due back in court at 2 p.m. Thursday for a probable cause conference. A date for his preliminary examination also is expected to be set. Details of the crime and testimony is expected to be part of the preliminary examination.

Clay can choose to waive his right to the preliminary examination.

During the very brief arraignment before Monroe County Judge Terrence Bronson, Clay raised his hand and said “I don’t want a bond.”

Monroe Chief Assistant Prosecutor Michael Roehrig said he could not discuss statements Clay may have made to authorities.

bwilliams@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2027

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