The woman whose body was found in St. Petersburg, Florida, has been identified after more than half a century, local police said. Determining her identity became possible thanks to new traces in the case. The woman’s corpse was in a large black chest, which is why for years she was called “the lady from the trunk”.
The woman’s body was found on Halloween, October 31, 1969, behind one of the restaurants in St. Petersburg. On that day, children in the area saw two men take a black trunk from the trunk of a car and leave it in the bushes. Police officers called to the scene found the body of a woman, partly dressed in pajamas, wrapped in a plastic bag inside the trunk. According to the inquest, there were visible injuries on her head and the cause of death was strangulation with a tie.
Investigators have been unable to identify the victim for years. She was buried as a Jane Doe – that’s how dead people with unknown identities are called in America. IN USA she began to be called the “trunk lady”, and her case eventually became the longest unsolved murder case in the entire state.
The lady in the trunk identified
Finally, after identifying the woman murdered in 1969, the police from St. Petersburg, she announced at a press conference held on May 30. It was explained that the identity of the victim was established thanks to DNA analysis carried out in a laboratory in Texas. Fragments of the hair and skin of the murdered woman from the original autopsy were sent there, found only this year by the detective dealing with the case Wally Pavelski – handed over during the conference.
After DNA testing, the woman was tentatively identified as 41 years old at the time of Sylvia June Atherton’s death. To confirm her identity, genetic material from the woman’s living children was sent to the laboratory in April, which enabled confirmation that the victim was Atherton. During the conference, a video call was made with the daughter of the murdered woman, Syllen Gates, who was 9 years old at the time of her mother’s disappearance. The woman noted that she was shocked when she learned new information about the police findings. – It’s been so many years. We had no idea what happened to her,” Gates said.
Body found on Halloween
Sylvia’s daughter June Atherton told investigators that her mother left her hometown of Tuckson, Arizona, in 1965 for Chicago with her new boyfriend, Stuart Brown. She took her three children with her. Gates, then five, and her 11-year-old brother stayed in Tuckson with their dad, Atherton’s ex-husband.
Gates has had no contact with her mother since then. After some time, one of the children who had left Atherton returned to Truckson and lived with their father again. The other two girls who stayed with their mother disappeared without a trace. Syllen Gates admitted that she tried to find them on the Internet, but the search did not bring any results.
Atherton’s new partner, Stuart Brown, died in 1999 in Las Vegas. He never reported his partner missing, nor did he mention her in any documents. Police say it remains unclear who was responsible for Atherton’s murder.
st. Petersburg Police Department, tvn24.pl
Main photo source: st. Petersburg Police Department