Jane Doe identified in 54-year-old Texas cold case


PECOS, Texas (KMID) — Police in Pecos, Texas say DNA records led them to a major break in a cold case.

Police began investigating in 1966 after a teenage girl was found dead in a pool. They were not able to identify the body.

On Tuesday, police announced they identified the girl, through DNA matching and genealogy tracing, as 17-year-old Jolaine Hemmy.

Hemmy was a native of Salina, Kansas. She was seen at the Ropers Motel with a man who has not been identified.

At this time, police do not know if her death was an accident or if foul play is suspected. Police mentioned that, following her death, the man had asked the office at the Ropers Motel for his registration card, saying it was the only form of identification he had to go to the hospital. According to Pecos Police Chief Lisa Tarango, he never arrived at the hospital.

Tarango visited Hemmy’s family last week to notify them of the DNA match, saying it was an emotional visit, and describing it as “talking to the family 50 years ago.”

Police collected a DNA sample from Hemmy’s body and were able to identify a distant relative of hers through public DNA records. Genealogists were then able to create a family tree, which led them to Hemmy’s sister in Florida. Her DNA sample identified the “Unknown Girl Drowned” as Jolaine Hemmy.

Police are also investigating the reason why Hemmy had left her hometown in Kansas and what she was doing in Pecos. Locals said that many people had come to town at that time for the rodeo, which was around the same time as her death. Police have not confirmed that information.

“Today we are going to give her, her name back,” Chief Lisa Tarango said Tuesday afternoon.  

Tarango also noted that it is still an open and ongoing investigation.  

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