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Advanced DNA forensics helped identify the remains of a murder victim from 50 years ago

Ashley Sabol
Microbiologist Ashley Sabol extracts Listeria bacteria for genome sequencing in a foodborne disease outbreak lab at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Monday, Nov. 25, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

(FAIRFAX, Virginia)– Police in Virginia announced Monday that the remains of a teenager who disappeared nearly 50 years ago have now been identified.

Using advanced DNA testing, investigators identified remains found in a ditch 21 years ago as that of Patricia Agnes Gildawie, also called “Choubi,” a teenager who disappeared in 1975.

Authorities said Gildawie was killed by a shot to the back of the head, her body was dumped in a ditch, and a construction crew found Gildawie’s skeletal remains on September 27, 2001.

Her remains were initially misidentified as belonging to an African-American woman in her late teens to early 20s.

Fairfax cold-case investigators attempted to solve the murder and contacted forensic experts from Othram Inc., a Texas-based laboratory that provides law enforcement with advanced DNA testing and forensic-grade genome sequencing.

The genome tests led detectives to Gildawie’s older half-sister, Veronique Duperly, who assisted in the latter stages of the police investigation.

While Gildawie’s remains were identified, no suspects have been named in the investigation, spanning over half a century.

Authorities are asking anyone with information about Gildawie’s case are encouraged to contact authorities via phone 1-866-411-TIPS (866-411-8477) and online.