Decades-Old Texas Murder Mystery Solved: DNA Identifies Long-Lost Victim’s Remains

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More than four decades after law enforcement discovered the remains of a young woman on the side of a Texas interstate, the Bastrop County Sheriff’s Office announced Thursday that the remains have been identified.  The victim was discovered by passing law enforcement in Elgin, Texas. According to DNA Solves, which helps crowdfund identification investigations, she was wearing a white shirt with red neck detailing and dark blue trousers. 

She was known as Kathy Ann Smith. According to the sheriff’s office, she was only 22 or nearly 23 years old at the time of her assassination. At the time, investigators had no leads as to who murdered her or who she was. 

Cold Case Intrigue: Serial Killer’s Confession Links to Unidentified Victim

In 1984, serial murderer Henry Lee Lucas, who confessed to hundreds of murders but only three were verified, claimed responsibility for Smith’s murder.  However, local officials were still unaware of the woman’s identity. 

At the news conference, the sheriff stated that Lucas recanted some of his confessions, but not in this particular case. “I know Henry Lee was capable of committing murder,” said Bastrop County Sheriff Maurice Cook, “but I cannot definitively say he committed this particular crime.” However, Lucas was identified in the investigation files and remains the sole suspect, according to the sheriff.

The grave was exhumed in 2019 to obtain DNA samples, the sheriff’s office said, after Sergeant James Miller began investigating the case. At that time, there was insufficient information to create a DNA profile. According to the sheriff’s office, a second exhumation was conducted in 2022, and sufficient DNA existed for a lab to identify the remains using forensic genealogy.

In April 2023, the facility created a profile and provided law enforcement with a name. “The problem was that she was adopted,” Cook stated at a news conference. Before notifying the general public, law enforcement had to obtain court permission to gain access to the adopted family’s information in order to notify both the victim’s biological and adoptive families of the incident.

The sheriff’s office worked on the case “to give closure to the family,” according to the spokesperson.

Smith’s 67th birthday would have been last week, according to the sheriff’s office. According to the sheriff’s office, Smith left behind a daughter who requested anonymity.  “The daughter now knows what happened to her mother,” stated Cook. 

 

Read also: Unlikely Victim: Phoenix’s Extreme Heat Takes Toll on Cacti

Source: CBS News

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