Benicia Police Department and FBI Team with Othram to Identify Solano County Jane Doe

Forty years later, the partial skull of a woman discovered on a California beach has been identified as 56-year-old Tomye Ross Smith.

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Published July 20, 2023 by Michael Vogen
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In April 1983, a portion of a human skull was discovered on a beach south of Ryer Island in Solano County, California several miles from the city of Benicia. It was confirmed that the partial skeletal remains belonged to an adult female. No identifying information for the woman was available and she became known as “Solano County Jane Doe #3-1983.” The woman’s remains were discovered in close proximity of Jane Doe #16 whose torso was discovered by individuals on a sailboat in 1979. The remains of Jane Doe #3-1983 and Jane Doe #16-1979 were interred together in a plot at a cemetery in Benicia. Throughout the course of the investigation, many women were excluded and for over three decades, the identities of both Jane Does were unknown.

In September 2020, Benicia Police Department detectives investigated a new lead regarding the identity of Jane Doe #16-1979. This led detectives to exhume both the torso and skull for DNA analysis. In October 2020, DNA analysis was performed on the torso belonging to Jane Doe #16-1979, as well as the skull belonging to Jane Doe #3-1983. The identity of Jane Doe #16-1979 was confirmed as Dolores Wulff who was murdered in Woodland, California, but interestingly, the skull was not a genetic match to the remains for Jane Doe #16-1979. Therefore, Jane Doe #3-1983 (the skull) remained unidentified. A DNA profile for the skull was developed and searched in CODIS but no matches were found. The case was also entered into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) as UP15590. With all leads exhausted, the case eventually went cold.

In 2022, Benicia Police Department, in collaboration with the FBI, teamed with Othram to determine if advanced DNA testing could help identify Jane Doe #3-1983. Forensic evidence was submitted to Othram's laboratory in The Woodlands, Texas. Using Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing®, a comprehensive DNA profile was developed for the unknown woman. The DNA profile was returned to law enforcement and the FBI assisted in generating new investigative leads using forensic genetic genealogy. A follow-up investigation led by the Benicia Police Department revealed a potential family member, who assisted in the identifying the unknown woman. Jane Doe #3-1983 was finally identitifed and she is now known to be Tomye Ross Smith. Smith was born February 10, 1927. It is likely that she was estranged from her family, but it is believed that she lived in the Contra Costa County area when she went missing in 1980.

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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.