JACKSBORO (WATE) – A cold case from Campbell County is heating up. The body of a 30-year-old black woman who had been shot in the head was found in 1998 in a dump area about a mile from I-75. Investigators exhumed her remains Wednesday, hoping DNA evidence will finally tell them who she is.
After two and a half hours of digging, the 17-year-old casket was uncovered. Inside, only bones are left.
“What I’ll do is take the skeleton back, clean it up, and prepare it to take a DNA sample,” said Dr. Murray Marks, a forensic anthropologist and consultant for the Knox County Regional Forensics Center.
“We’re all born with an identity and I think we should all die with one. It always makes you feel good when you can help with a team of these experts to bring closure not to us, but the family. There are loved ones out there that still think about this person and are waiting. It’s an incredible cross to bear for a long period of time,” Marks said.
After the murder in 1998, the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office tried to figure out who the victim was and where she came from.
“I remember when they found her,” said Dep. Glennis Monday, who had just started with the department back then. “That seems like a long time ago. I’m glad to see she’s getting some closure now.”
Several years after the body was buried, volunteers with the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, or NaMUS, took up the case. They used the victim’s skull to recreate what she may have looked like. The pictures appeared on Good Morning America in 2004.
“I thought millions of people would have seen it and somebody would have come forward, but nothing. And here we are more than 10 years later and we’re still trying,” said Todd Matthews.
This Jane Doe’s teeth and finger prints never matched any missing people in the NaMUS database. DNA is the only option now. Investigators are hoping her relatives have put theirs in the system.
“We have some potential matches that have been generated and we’re hoping one of those could be a match, but until we get her profile developed and into the system, we can’t say either way,” said Amy Dobbs with NaMUS.
If this Jane Doe can be identified, that might be the first step in finding her killer.