LONGVIEW, Texas (KETK) – A woman known in East Texas as an unidentified doe for more than a decade, Dana Lynn Dodd, formerly called “Lavender Doe,” officially has her name back.

Just one day after what would have been Dodd’s 34th birthday, her family gathered at the Longview cemetery where she was once only known as “Jane Doe.”

“We wanted to bring everybody out and thank them as one for being part of Dana,” said Amanda Gadd, Dodd’s sister. “Embracing her, accepting her, and you know showing the love while we weren’t able to find her, they kept her safe and loved, so we wanted to thank everybody as one today.”

It was no accident that the family chose Dodd’s birthday to set her brand new headstone.

“It was important to give her name back to her on birthday, just like it was given to her on the day she came into this world,” said Gadd.

For the very first time, we learned more about the woman found dead back in 2006 on an oil field lease in Kilgore.

Her sister tells us that at the age of 12, Dodd went to live with her sister in Florida.

“We always sat down at the dinner table and she loved that we always asked, you know, how was your day,” said Gadd. “She looked forward to that and she told me she looked forward to that time as family, because she never had that living in Arizona.”

The family says Dodd just disappeared in 2003, three years before her murder, but they never lost hope or stopped looking.

“From all the years of looking for her, we didn’t know she was in this part of the country, we thought she was up north, so that’s where we were mainly focused on,” said Gadd. “So you know, for every six months to call, to look and everything, it was like opening the old wound back up every time.”

But eventually it was a call from the DNA Doe project, a non-profit that works to identify doe’s all over the country, in connection with the Gregg County Sheriff’s Office, that gave them hope and eventually their sister back.  

“It was like I could let a breath out, okay, she’s been found,” said Gadd. “Now I can stop doing repetitive things and constantly looking for her and start working on justice.”

They want Justice for Dodd and for Felisha Pearson, the other woman Joseph Wayne Burnette confessed to killing in 2018.

But for now, the family is just happy to have their sister back, though, they chose to leave Dodd here in East Texas.

“For us to know that somebody took the time out of their day to come and care for her, put flowers on her grave, to say hey, we don’t know who you are, but we care for you,” said Gadd, “that was our definitive decision of why we needed, why Dana needed to be here, because she is part of Longview’s family.”

It’s a decision investigators in the case do not take lightly, with many attending Saturday’s memorial.

“It touched my heart, to know that they would leave her with us and not take her back home, where she came from, it’s very humbling,” said Lieutenant Eddie Hope, Gregg County Sheriff’s Office.

The family is just happy to know that Dodd,  a daughter, a sister, an aunt, finally has her name back. Dana Lynn Dodd.