Loudoun Co. Sheriff’s Office exhumes ‘Jane Doe’ in hopes of solving 1973 cold case

The remains of a woman who was killed in 1973 were exhumed in mid-October by the sheriff’s office in Loudoun County, Virginia, to obtain her DNA.

The woman’s remains were exhumed after a requested court order came through.

The woman, referred to as “Jane Doe,” was killed on May 28, 1973. She was believed to be a Black woman between 20 and 25 years old who was shot multiple times, according to the sheriff’s office.

The exhumation was carried out by a specialized team of forensic experts.

The remains were exhumed from an unmarked grave at the Mount Olive Baptist Church Cemetery and transported to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Manassas, where a DNA sample will be taken.

“The LCSO is committed to bringing justice and closure to these cold cases, no matter how long it takes, or how much effort is required,” said Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman. “Combining modern investigative techniques with relentless investigators demonstrates our unwavering commitment to identify this victim and bring closure to her family,” he added.

The sheriff’s office hopes to identify Jane Doe via other family members through DNA analysis.

In May 2023, detectives used a Ground Penetrating Radar unit that was provided by the George Mason University police department. This device helped them to locate the remains, which will be buried again after the DNA is obtained in a new coffin. She will be given a new headstone.

“For far too long Justice has been delayed in the cases of missing and murdered African American citizens nationwide, but thank God for the advancements in DNA, historic preservation best practices, and culturally competent community policing that will lead to the restoration of human dignity to victims, sacred acts of closure for families and the delivery of justice whenever possible to those bad actors among us who terrorize our communities causing irreparable harm to families,” said Michelle Thomas, founder of the Loudoun Freedom Center, in the news release.

“LCSO’s renewed commitment to community partnership in seeking justice for victims and their families regardless of race or time is a clear sign that justice may have been delayed back then, but will never be denied in Loudoun ever again,” said Thomas.

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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