GLADEWATER, Texas (KETK) – It’s been 20 years since a body was found on the side of the road by constructions crews off Highway 135 in Gregg County. Today a non-profit organization positively identified the remains.
“We never try to forget any case. This is another example of us not forgetting,” said Craig Harrington, the Chief Deputy for the Gregg County Sheriff’s Office.
Pamela Young was estimated to have been between the ages of 16-30. She was a white or Hispanic female whose remains were found in 2002 just south of Swam City Road in Gregg County.
The national non-profit organization assists in the solving of cold case files with the use of DNA and genealogy research. The DNA Doe Project has helped solve two other East Texas cold cases, Lavender Doe, identified as Dana Lynn Dodd. Her body was found back in 2006, but it took 12 years to find out who she was.
Early in 2020, Lieutenant Eddie Hope reached out to the DNA Doe Project to begin the process to use investigative genetic genealogy to identify Young, who was known as Gregg County Jane Doe 2002.
“Just the genealogy research, we worked on it for maybe about 15 months as a team within DNA Doe Project. This case did become really personal to me,” explained Kevin Lord, the Director of lab and agency logistics at the DNA Doe Project.
A DNA profile was developed from a molar and was uploaded to GEDmatch Pro, a database that allows law enforcement to compare DNA profiles of Jane and John Doe unidentified remains to those of people who have uploaded their profiles to the public side of the database at GEDmatch.com.
The genealogy in this case was extremely complex, and it took almost two years for the experienced volunteers from the DNA Doe Project to narrow down the family tree to identify Young.
She lived all over the country, so this made it difficult to track down her family and information.
“Eventually, we were finally able to narrow that down to a particular family and then eventually saw that Pamela had lived in the Dallas area. That really peaked our interest,” said Lord.
A DNA sample from her daughter confirmed the identification.
After a case review was conducted by another team from the DNA Doe Project, team members working on Gregg County Jane Doe were able to use the mitochondrial DNA haplogroup to significantly narrow their focus and ultimately identify Young. According to Kevin Lord, team co-lead, there was a lot of intermarriage in the family making the case much more difficult to solve.
“Communications with a few distant DNA relatives gave us crucial information we could not have learned from a paper trail, and we are so grateful for their assistance“Megan Street Pasika, team co-leader
The DNA Doe Project wishes to acknowledge the contributions of the groups and individuals who helped solve this case: the Gregg County Sheriff’s Office, who entrusted the case to the DNA Doe Project; Astrea Forensics for extraction of DNA from a tooth; HudsonAlpha Discovery for sequencing; Kevin Lord of Saber Investigations for bioinformatics; GEDmatch Pro and FTDNA for providing their databases; our generous donors who contributed to this case, including Adept Cosmetics; and DDP’s dedicated teams of volunteer investigative genetic genealogists who work tirelessly to bring victims home.
The nonprofit also helped solve another case out of Tyler, and the man was identified as Kim Ryan Casey. Casey’s body was found near the intersection of HWY 69 South and FM 2813 just south of the Tyler city limits. A forensic medical examiner was only able to determine that it was a white male between 27-42 years old.
These cold cases take a lot of funding to process, if you would like to help DNA Doe Project, click here.