Bodies of unknowns exhumed in Sumter County

Published: Jun. 12, 2007 at 11:57 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 18, 2007 at 1:14 PM EDT
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SUMTER COUNTY, SC (WIS) - Two people were found shot to death in Sumter County. For more than 30 years, authorities have been trying to figure out the victims' identities. Now, DNA evidence could breathe new life into a cold case.

The unknown victims were exhumed at a Sumter County cemetery this week. Coroner Verna Moore thinks someone has information on the man and woman, "I feel that there is possibly somebody who knows who they are, but they're not coming forward."

Moore is determined figure out who the two people are, the county's oldest John and Jane Doe. "They were clean; they were neat. She was beautiful, a real pretty girl. He was also."

Both were shot and killed off a county road in 1976. But they were never identified.

Now, in a renewed effort, hopes are pinned on DNA profiling that didn't exist 30 years ago.

Authorities will try to match traces of the victims' DNA to the profiles of relatives that might already be in the DNA database.

Officials say bodies buried 30 ago are typically still rich with DNA to develop a profile. The challenge is finding a parent, or sibling who took time to submit blood or saliva DNA samples when the two went missing.

"I just wish that if anybody knows them that they would come forward," says Moore.

Investigators previously reviewed finger-prints and dental records, but didn't find any matches.

As for this attempt to find answers, the two might be of foreign descent, in which case, even if close relatives submitted DNA samples, they might be in another country's database.

Reported by Dan Tordjman

Posted by Chantelle Janelle