Durham PD Partners with Othram to Identify a Jane Doe Whose Skeletal Remains were Found in a Storage Unit

Local law enforcement is using advanced DNA testing to seek the identity of a Jane Doe or her nearest living relatives
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Published July 27, 2020


Investigators were shocked to find the remains of a young woman in storage unit that was being cleaned out in October 2016. The discovery was made at a self-storage unit on Carpenter Fletcher Road in Durham County, North Carolina. An unrecognizable, almost skeletal individual was found inside of a plastic container that was stowed away inside. It is unclear how long the remains may have been hidden in that location. However, prior to their discovery, the unit was rented by the same person since 2010.

The death is presumed suspicious, however, there is little evidence pointing to the identity of the victim or how she ended up in the storage unit. The victim had few possessions with them. The only clothing that remained were jeans sized 36 width and 32 long, two white socks, and a pair of Nike shoes. Additional personal items included a yellow Pulsar watch and three keys.

Investigators were able to estimate the age of the decedent (at time of death) to be 25 to 35 years old. It is further concluded that the remains were from a white female, with a possible height ranging from 5’3” to 5’5”. Her hair was brown and about seven inches long, meaning she would have had shoulder-length hair at the time of death. There are limited physical traits and features: no visible scars, tattoos, or other unique markings.

Dental records were taken with the possibility of being compared. In February of 2019, composite sketches from the FBI were developed of the Jane Doe in hopes that someone may recognize her and come forward with information. The sketches depict what the victim may have looked like: a young woman with shoulder length hair, and a slight space between her front teeth. The sketches were then broadcast in the news and posted on missing persons sites in hope that someone would recognize her and reveal who she was. So far there have not been any additional leads.

Othram learned of this case and offered to assist the Durham Police Department with the use of advanced DNA testing and forensic genealogy to establish an identification of, or find the nearest kin to the decedent. Othram offered to provide crowdfunding to cover the costs of testing for this case and was able to raise over half of the funding goal. The Durham Police Department elected to fund the remainder of the costs in an attempt to expedite the identification of Jane Doe. Anyone with information about this case is encouraged to contact the Durham Police Department at (919) 560-4440. This case is logged in NamUs as UP15960.

About Othram Inc.

Othram is the world’s first private DNA laboratory built specifically to apply the power of modern parallel sequencing to forensic evidence. Othram’s scientists are experts at recovery, enrichment, and analysis of human DNA from trace quantities of degraded or contaminated materials. Founded in 2018, and located in The Woodlands, Texas, our team works with academic researchers, forensic scientists, medical examiners, and law enforcement agencies to achieve results when other approaches have failed. Follow Othram on Twitter @OthramTech or visit Othram.com to learn how we can help you with your case. Visit dnasolves.com to learn how anyone can make a difference in helping solve the next cold case.

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