Berkeley County deputies search for clues in 1977 cold case – WIS News 10

DNA

MONCKS CORNER, S.C. (WCSC) – Berkeley County investigators hope new details about an unidentified woman discovered nearly 45 years ago may finally solve the mystery of who she was.

Sheriff Duane Lewis said the woman’s remains were found on Oct. 4, 1977, by crews clearing land in a Goose Creek.

Then Berkeley County Coroner George Murray estimated that the bones had been at the site for between six months to a year at the time they were found, Lewis said. Murray sent the incomplete remains to MUSC for a more detailed examination.

“No one came forward to report someone missing or tried to claim those remains,” Lewis said.

The skeletal remains were believed to be that of a Black woman, ranging in age from 20 to 75 years old and standing between 5-feet, 2-inches and 5-feet, 8-inches tall, according to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, a federal clearinghouse and resource center for missing, unidentified and unclaimed person cases.

“So you’re thinking back to 1977, a lot of things have changed,” Lewis said.

The sheriff’s office said his agency sent the remains to the University of North Texas for human identification.

The new examination updated some details about the woman’s possible age and height, suggesting that she was of medium build, between the ages of 30 and 60, and with a height of between 5-feet, 4-inches and 5-feet, 6-inches.

Berkeley County Sheriff Duane Lewis, left, and Coroner George Oliver talked to reporters Wednesday about the latest information on unclaimed remains discovered in Goose Creek in 1977.(Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office)

The sheriff’s office then contacted a forensic imaging specialist at the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office in Florida who was able to produce a facial reconstruction to produce an image that might show how she would have looked at the time she disappeared.

“According to the imaging experts, from the facial features and a poor dental care suggests that this person may have ancestry ties to another country, such as Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica or the Bahamas,” Lewis said. “So that’s just another tidbit of information that these folks were able to determine from working with these remains.”

Lewis said they have entered what they have into a DNA database called CONUS and have also begun looking at forensic genealogy.

“There’s been some other cases that genealogy, DNA, has solved, some missing persons, and located lost and unknown family members,” Lewis said.

He said they hope the new pieces of information may jog someone’s memory about mentions of someone having disappeared around the time.

“There is someone somewhere who has missed this person and we would like to talk to them. We would like to try to learn more about where they were back in 1977 and how we may can help close this case out for somebody that’s this missing someone,” Lewis said. “We don’t know what happened. We don’t know how the remains got there. We just don’t know.”

Anyone with information on the case is asked to call Detective John Plitsch at the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office at 843-719-4465.

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