Two young women who were murdered and left in a Texas oil field decades ago have finally been identified thanks to the new investigative technique of genetic genealogy, according to local police.
One of the women, who police called Jane Doe, was shot in the back. Her body was found in an oil field in League City on Feb. 2, 1986, said the League City police.
The skeletal remains of the second woman, who police called Janet Doe, were discovered in the same area on Sept. 8, 1991, police said.
Authorities said they will reveal the victims’ names at a news conference on April 15.
The recovery of Janet Doe’s remains marked the fourth woman to be found dead within seven years in that area, said police. Some media outlets have dubbed the fields “The Killing Fields.”
The other two women have been already identified as 25-year-old Heidi Fye, whose body was found in 1984, and 16-year-old Laura Miller, who was found dead in 1986, according to The Houston Chronicle.
A fifth victim was found a few miles away, League City Police spokesman Kelly Williamson told ABC News.
As police worked to identify Jane Doe and Janet Doe, one investigative technique the department said it employed was phenotyping analysis, which uses a victim’s DNA to make predictions about his or her characteristics, including eye color, hair color and skin color.
The analysis predicted Jane Doe most likely had fair to very fair skin, blue or green eyes, blond/brown hair and no or few freckles, said League City police. It’s believed her family is from Tennessee, the phenotyping analysis determined, said police.
Jane Doe was believed to be between 22 and 30 years old, coroners estimate. She likely died six weeks to six months before she was found.
Meanwhile, Parabon helped determine that Janet Doe most likely had fair skin, hazel eyes, brown hair and no or few freckles, said police. She was believed to be between 24 and 34 years old, coroners estimated, according to police. Janet Doe likely has family from Louisiana, the phenotyping analysis found.
Despite the composite images released through the phenotyping analysis, League City police said on Thursday that it was the new technique known as genetic genealogy that finally brought them answers.
Genetic genealogy takes the DNA of an unknown person and traces a family tree through his or her family members, who voluntarily submit their DNA to public genealogy databases. Genetic genealogy first came to light as an investigative tool in April 2018 when the DNA of the “Golden State Killer” was plugged into public genealogy databases to lead to the name of a suspect.
The police department has not yet elaborated on how genetic genealogy led to Jane Doe and Janet Doe’s identities.
According to The Chronicle, police have previously said there were persons of interest who could not be eliminated in this mysterious case. Williamson declined to comment on potential persons of interest on Friday and said that would be addressed at the April 15 news conference.