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Deputies found cold case homicide victim’s relatives through DNA testing but still can’t identify her

Deputies say two young boys discovered this woman's skeletal remains in 1993. Now authorities have tracked down the victim's relatives through genetic genealogy, but investigators have still yet to determine her identity. (Image: Flagler County Sheriff's Office)

Deputies say two young boys discovered this woman’s skeletal remains in 1993. Now authorities have tracked down the victim’s relatives through genetic genealogy, but investigators have still yet to determine her identity. (Image: Flagler County Sheriff’s Office)

Deputies are one step away from identifying a cold case homicide victim, but are having some trouble. They’ve tracked down dozens of the victim’s relatives through DNA testing, but the name of a woman found slain almost 20 years ago remains a mystery. Authorities voiced hope, however, that they can solve the case with the help of a new image approximating her likeness, and even with the help of a genealogist relative.

According to the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office, two young boys were playing basketball on Jan. 10, 1993 at the end of their cul-de-sac on Sea Ship Place.

“Their basketball went into the woods and when they went to retrieve their basketball, they found skeletal remains under some brush,” deputies wrote.

Investigators with the sheriff’s office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement found partial skeletal remains and what authorities simply described as “other items of evidence.”

Forensic anthropologists from the University of Florida and the medical examiner’s office determined the woman had been dead for approximately two to three years.

It was years later in 2021 that the DNA lab company Othram Inc managed to develop her DNA profile. Though forensic anthropologists in the 1990s originally had her as white, possibly Indian, this reevaluation determined she was African American, “possibly mixed with Caucasian.”

Investigators used genetic genealogy to determine she was descended from George Washington Coleman and Clarissa Minnick in the area of Edgefield and Aiken, South Carolina.

“At least 30 relatives have been contacted from the extensive family tree, but so far, her identity remains unknown,” deputies said.

One of her relatives is genealogist Donya Williams of the organization Genealogy Adventures, authorities said.

“Ms. Williams has shared her knowledge of African American genealogy and specific expertise of the region of Edgefield, South Carolina with Detective Scalia in hopes of identifying this victim,” deputies wrote. “Detective Scalia has also been working with the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office in South Carolina and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division – SLED to help identify this victim.”

Authorities estimate the unidentified woman as being age 25 to 35 when someone killed her around 1990 to 1991. She was born some time between 1955 to 1965. She had an old right nasal fracture and stood “approximately 64 inches in height (5 ft 3 inches).”

“I was murdered!” deputies wrote on the unidentified woman’s behalf. “Who am I and do you know who killed me?”

Authorities voiced hope that some does know.

“We hope that someone may be able to identify this woman so we can bring closure to her family who has been waiting for over 30 years to know what happened to her,” Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly said. “We know someone out there knows something, so call us. We also thank the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office for assisting us, especially their Forensic Imaging Unit, the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, and our other community partners.”

Investigators ask that anyone with information on the woman’s identity or her death call the sheriff’s office cold case unit at 386-313-4911 or email [email protected]. You can also reach Detective Sarah Scalia at [email protected], or call Crime Stoppers of North East Florida at 1-888-277-TIPS. That organization is offering a reward of up to $5,000, deputies said.

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

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