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A teenager who was murdered in Virginia more than four decades ago has gotten her name back.
The girl who has long been known as “Woodlawn Jane Doe” has now been identified as Margaret Fetterolf, a 16-year-old from Alexandria, the Baltimore County Police Department announced in a Wednesday statement.
The teenager’s remains were discovered on Sept. 12, 1976, near the Lorraine Park Cemetery in Woodlawn.
Fetterolf had been bound, beaten, and strangled with a ligature, according to a timeline of events created by law enforcement.
”Chlorpromazine was found in her system, which may have been used to sedate her,” they noted. “The victim was also violently raped.”
For more than four decades investigators tried to identify her remains and find her killer. Sketches of her led to no productive leads. Then, in 2006, semen was identified and sent in for testing; it didn't lead to any suspects. Her case was featured on America's Most Wanted in 2010. Then in 2015, with the assistance of The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, pollen testing led Baltimore County detectives to believe that she may have been from the Boston area. A year later, The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children released a new facial reconstruction image of her.
But the big break came with genetic genealogy this year. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children worked with private forensic DNA laboratory Bode Technology to determine her identity through DNA.
“BODE produced a DNA extract from the remaining degraded DNA evidence and sent the DNA extract to Othram in hopes that a comprehensive genealogical profile could be built,” according to an Othram, another DNA lab, press release. They produced a genealogical profile and returned this profile back to BODE. BODE genealogists then worked to produce investigative leads that led police to identify the “Woodlawn Jane Doe” identity as Fetterolf, who vanished in 1975.
Now that she has her name back, officials want to find her killer.
“By knowing Margaret’s identity, detectives are now one step closer to catching the people responsible for her murder,” police stated.
Fetterolf’s case is one of many getting some resolution with the advance of genetic genealogy.
"There are too many cases like this one, that could be solved using the right forensic tools. Families need answers to even begin the process of healing,” David Mittelman, CEO of DNA lab Othram, told Oxygen.com on Thursday. “This is why we have to tackle the backlog of unsolved cases.”
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