Years pass, but the scars remain. Family members agonize for a resolution of the case that destroyed their lives. While many cold cases go unsolved, there always remains a sliver of hope that a resolution will be attained.
Whether it’s—a distraught witness finally coming forward, a determined family member who won’t let the case go, or a modern forensic technology that sheds light on a mystery – many of these so-called cold cases do eventually get solved.
And, although the resolution of the case does not bring back the victim, the family members do often feel a sense of closure. Finally, they can move on with their lives.
Here are two high-profile mysteries that were recently solved with the help of modern forensic science.
Photo courtesy of suffolktimes.com.
The Disappearance of Louise Pietrewicz
On a cool Long Island autumn day in October of 1966, a 38-year old mother named Louise Pietrewicz withdrew her remaining funds from the bank and closed her account. She was never seen again. At that time, she was in an abusive marriage, and had been secretly seeing another man, a police officer named William P. Boken.
On the day of her disappearance, Louise’s 12-year old daughter vividly remembers kissing her mother good-bye at the school bus stop. The daughter also recalls believing that her mother would eventually return home to her. And that something awful must have happened—because she was a dedicated parent who would never willingly leave her daughter.
The local police apparently never took the case very seriously, despite the fact that her boyfriend, Boken, had called out sick the three days prior to the disappearance. And then, quit the police force on the day after Louise closed her bank account and vanished.
The case went cold for almost 50 years. Then, a local newspaper renewed the public’s interest in the matter after publishing a piece on the incident. A documentary soon followed. And, as a result of the exploding media exposure, a witness finally came forward. It was the former wife of the now-deceased Boken.
Boken’s wife dropped a bombshell by revealing that she believed a body was buried in the basement of her modest Long Island home. A forensic team swooped on the scene, and using ground penetrating radar (GPR), investigators discovered a skeleton. The GPR impressively discovered the body despite it being buried 7-feet underground, beneath a 5-inch concrete slab.
A forensic pathologist determined the cause of death to be a fatal gunshot. Then, on March 19, 2018, forensic investigators also made the determination that the body found in the basement was, in fact, Louise Pietrewicz.
Despite the overwhelming evidence pointing to Boken, the confirmed identity of Louise’s killer will most likely never be determined.
The Identity of Buckskin Girl
On April 22, 1981, a young woman’s body was found in a ditch alongside a highway outside of Troy, Ohio. The woman had no identification on her. And all attempts to ID the young lady through published and broadcasted police sketches proved to be fruitless. The young Jane Doe victim was then nicknamed “Buckskin Girl” due to the tasseled buckskin jacket she was wearing at time her body was discovered.
The forensic pathologist determined her age to be 21, and that she died due to strangulation and blunt force trauma to the head. Buckskin Girl was eventually buried at a local Troy cemetery, but her clothing remained in storage at a police evidence facility. Prior to her burial, investigators were able to extract her fingerprints, dental information and other items that would be later used for DNA analysis.
Police found no evidence of sexual assault. And, as a result, investigators’ primary theory that Buckskin Girl may have been another victim of a recent killing spree of local sex workers was ruled out. Police ran into dead-end after dead-end, and eventually the investigation went cold.
In 2008, the police had a renewed interest in this case. So, at that time, investigators entered the victim’s dental information, fingerprints and DNA analysis into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons database. No matches were found.
Then, finally in 2016, there was significant progress in the quest to determine the identity of Buckskin Girl. First, forensic pathologists conducted testing on the woman’s clothing, and a forensic facial reconstruction was performed that resulted in a three-dimensional facial image of the woman.
Through the clothing analysis, the forensics team was able to narrow down the areas of the country where she had frequented during the months prior to her death. And, as a result of the forensic facial reconstruction, investigators were able to reach out to the media in those areas with a tangible image of Buckskin Girl.
The non-profit group DNA Doe Project soon got involved in the investigation, and their help led to the eventual identification of the woman. The Project created a DNA profile using blood taken at the time of the victim’s death. They entered the profile into a public genealogy database, and voila – a family member match was found.
After speaking with the family member, it was revealed – on April 9, 2018 – that Buckskin Girl’s real name was Marcia Lenore King, a runaway from Arkansas. Marcia was never officially reported missing, but her mother never left the family home in hopes that Marcia would someday return.
To date, there are no murder suspects being investigated in connection with Marcia’s murder.
These cases prove that – with the help of modern forensic science – no case is every truly cold. Are there are any murder mysteries of which you are aware that could be included in this post?
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