In May 2012, a Talladega County Sheriff's Office deputy was patrolling rural Allred Road in Lincoln, Alabama. He noticed the front door of a vacant home was wide open and decided to investigate. When he searched the backyard of the property, he discovered the human remains of an unknown woman. Her body was found less than five miles from the Talladega Superspeedway, a NASCAR racetrack that holds several major race events each year. At the time she was discovered, the Superspeedway was holding a multi-day race event with thousands in attendance. Investigators were not able to determine if the woman and her death were connected in any way to the events held that weekend.
Investigators estimated that the woman was white and between 45 and 65 years old. She was found wearing a royal blue shirt, dark blue sweatpants, and off-white shoes. She had sandy brown hair that was graying and wore dentures engraved with the name "Powders." The state forensics department found that she likely had lung cancer. There was no identifying documents found at the scene and the remains were too decomposed to collect fingerprints. The case was entered into NCIC and NamUs in August 2012. Her description did not match any local missing persons cases and with all leads exhausted, the case soon went cold.
The Lincoln Police Department then partnered with Othram to use advanced DNA testing to determine the identity of the woman, or find a relative. The case was funded through the DNASolves® Crowdfunding platform, a generous contribution from philanthropist and genealogist Carla Davis, and the The Lincoln Police Department. Once funded, Othram scientists used Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing® to build a comprehensive DNA profile. Carla Davis worked directly with the agency to run a genealogical search and produced investigative leads. The agency then confirmed the investigative leads and determined the woman was Jean Turner Ponders of Roswell, Georgia, born April 14, 1945.
An investigation continues into the circumstances of Jean's death. If you have any information that might aid the investigation, call the Lincoln Police Department at 205-763-7777 or 205-763-4064.
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. With dnasolves.com anyone can make a difference and help solve the next cold case.