Over 26 years after a woman’s body was discovered buried beneath a pile of rocks in rural Nevada, authorities have announced her identity.
On Friday, the Washoe County Regional Medical Examiner’s Office said 41-year-old Lorena Gayle Mosley was the woman whose body was found by rock climbers on June 9, 1997, in Washoe County.
Although a county forensic pathologist performed the autopsy, her cause of death wasn’t able to be determined due to “severe decompositional changes to her body,” officials said. Still, they were able to deem her manner of death as homicide “due to the circumstances.”
“This is the first lead in over 20 years on this cold case, made possible through new technology and innovation, and the generosity of donors. I am deeply gratified to be able to give Ms. Mosley the dignity of being laid to rest with her name,” Chief Medical Examiner and Coroner Dr. Laura D. Knight said in a news release..
Officials identified Mosley, who also went by Lorena Gayle Sherwood, through forensic genetic genealogy.
The medical examiner’s office, with the help from Othram, a Texas-based private lab specializing in forensic genetic genealogy, compared her DNA profile to other DNA profiles uploaded to consumer genealogical databases, county spokesperson Bethany Drysdale said.
From there, with the help of the FBI, they were able to positively identify Mosley as the woman by using old paper fingerprint records that matched fingerprints taken from her body after she died, officials said.
After she was identified, Mosley’s next of kin was notified and claimed her remains.
The medical examiner’s office is now working on solving a 1984 cold case, according to the news release.
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