Washoe County Regional Medical Examiner’s Office Teams with Othram to Identify 1997 Homicide Victim

After twenty-six years, the remains of a woman found in shallow grave in Reno, Nevada are now identified as 41-year-old Lorena Gayle Mosley.

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Published November 30, 2023 by Michael Vogen
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In June 1997, rock climbers dicovered the remains of an unidentified woman buried under stones in a shallow grave in Reno, Nevada. Detectives estimated that the remains belonged to a white woman between the ages of thirty-five and forty-five years. The woman was 5’2” in height and she had brown hair at the time of her death. Her weight and eye color could not be determined. Investigators noted that during the woman's life, the left side of her mandible was fractured and repaired by the placement of a metal plate. Due to the condition of the woman's remains, the cause of her death could not be determined. However, the case details led investigators to conclude that her manner of death was homicide.

Several items of clothing were recovered along with the unidentified woman’s remains, including a pair of dark blue dungaree trousers, size 5.5 light gray and white athletic shoes, white socks, and a black padded long sleeve jacket with bright orange inner lining. The victim was also found wearing a yellow oval "Elgin" brand watch, a black and silver colored metal ring with magenta colored stone bearing the inscriptions "1992" and "oakridge", and a silver colored ring in the shape of two hearts, and a bronze colored bracelet. Within the vicinity of the crime scene, investigators found a bolo tie with a black braid, an arrow-shaped white and black stone, and a metal whistle.

Details of the case were entered into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) as UP7713. A forensic reconstruction was created to depict how the woman may have looked like during her life. Despite the efforts of law enforcement to identify the woman, no leads yielded a match and the case went cold.

In 2023, the Washoe County Regional Medical Examiner’s Office submitted forensic evidence to Othram in The Woodlands, Texas. Othram scientists successfully developed a DNA extract that was used in Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing® to build a comprehensive DNA profile for the unidentified homicide victim. Othram's in-house forensic genetic genealogy team used the profile in a genetic genealogy search to develop investigative leads that were returned to the Washoe County Regional Medical Examiner’s Office.

In a follow-up investigation led by Washoe County Regional Medical Examiner’s Office Medicolegal Death Investigator/Technician Supervisor Sarah Turner, old paper fingerprint records were positively matched to fingerprints taken from the body after death, with assistance from the FBI. The unidentified woman is now known to be Lorena Gayle Mosley (AKA Lorena Gayle Sherwood). Mosely was 41 years old at the time of her death.

The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office is continuing to investigate this cold case. If anyone has information relating to this investigation, please contact the Detectives’ Division at 775-328-3320.

A substantial portion of the casework costs associated with Othram's testing and investigative research was contributed by Project Justice, a philanthropic effort to reduce the backlog of unsolved cases. We are grateful to those who supported this effort so that we could assist law enforcement in working this 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 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.