Connecticut Office of the Chief Medical Examiner Teams with Othram to Identify 1974 Homicide Victim, “Lorraine Stahl”

A half-century later, the remains of a woman found in Ledyard, Connecticut with the assumed alias, “Lorraine Stahl”, has been identified as Linda Sue Childers, born September 4, 1946.

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Published March 13, 2024 by Michael Vogen
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In May 1974, Connecticut State Police recovered the decomposed remains of an unidentified woman from a wooded area in the town of Ledyard, Connecticut. The agency had received a tip about two murders that had occurred at a home on Shewville Road. Investigators located two shallow graves several hundred feet behind the house, in which they discovered the decomposed bodies of a man and a woman. Investigators later successfully identified the man as Gustavous Lee Carmichael, a convicted serial bank robber who had previously escaped from federal custody. He and the woman had been known to use the aliases Dirk Stahl and Lorraine Stahl before their murders on December 31, 1970. In the subsequent years, two men, Richard DeFreitas and Donald Brant, were convicted for the murders of the individuals.

It was determined that the unidentified woman was white and between the ages of 18 and 30 years at the time of her death. Investigators also estimated that the woman stood 5’2” in height. Due to the decomposition that had occurred, investigators were unable to make determinations about the woman’s eye color or hair color. Investigators believe that the murdered woman had died in 1970.

Several items of clothing and jewelry were recovered alongside the woman, including a tan leather “wet look” vest, a gold or tan sweater, a brown tweed skirt, and a pair of brown Grannie boots. The unidentified woman was also wearing two rings and a wood-carved broach or pendant. The wood-carved figure appeared to be an abstract ceremonial head. One ring appeared to be a school ring with the letters J.H.S.N. monogrammed, and the initials I.L.N. and the date 1917 engraved inside. The other ring was inexpensive with an animation emerald stone.

It was also established that the woman had been known to drive around the area in a green 1964 Oldsmobile with either Massachusetts or Maine license plates that had been found dumped in Hartford, Connecticut. Additionally, investigators recovered a yellow raincoat that the woman was known to wear, as well as a Lady Clairol brand hair roller set which was known to belong to the woman.

Since the discovery of the unknown woman’s remains, law enforcement investigators diligently pursued various leads about her identity. Investigators located a woman named Lorraine Stahl, who had moved from the area in the months prior, and determined that her identity had been assumed by the unidentified decedent. Investigators also created a composite sketch of the woman's appearance as she had been known in her life. Years later, in July 2011, the case was entered into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) as case number #UP8909. Despite the exhaustive efforts of law enforcement, the woman’s identity remained a mystery. With few leads for investigators to pursue, the case went cold.

In 2022, in an ongoing collaboration aimed at solving the backlog of cold cases in Connecticut, the Connecticut Office of the Chief Medical Examiner submitted forensic evidence to Otham's laboratory in The Woodlands, Texas. Othram scientists developed a suitable DNA extract from the evidence and then used Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing® to build a comprehensive DNA profile for the unknown woman. Using this profile, Othram's in-house forensic genetic genealogy team assisted Medicolegal Death Investigator Michelle Clark in a forensic genetic genealogy search to develop new investigative leads in the case.

These leads led investigators to potential relatives of the murdered woman. Confirmatory DNA testing led to the identification of the woman as Linda Sue Childers, born September 4, 1946. Childers was originally from Louisville, Kentucky. Childers' daughter and sister were notified of her identification. Richard DeFreitas and Donald Brant, the men convicted for Childers' murder, are now deceased.

This case was funded by donors who contributed to a DNASolves crowdfund. We are grateful to everyone that contributed towards the costs of Othram's testing in the case.

Help fund another case Your contributions pay for lab supplies and research tools

Michael Vogen

Michael Vogen

Director of Case Management

2829 Technology Forest Blvd Suite 100, The Woodlands, Texas 77381

Michael works with law enforcement agencies throughout the United States and Canada on “unsolvable“ cases that can benefit from advanced DNA testing methods. He helps these agencies use cutting edge DNA sequencing and new forensic techniques to develop investigative leads for their cases.

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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 ... Read morerecovery, 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 to learn how we can help you with your case. With anyone can make a difference and help solve the next cold case.