Memphis/ Crime & Emergencies
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Published on May 10, 2024
Decades-Long Mystery Solved as DNA Reveals Identity of Memphis Woman Missing Since 1974Source: Google Street View

A nearly half-century-old cold case has been cracked thanks to the perseverance of law enforcement and a nonprofit’s DNA sleuthing. Skeletal remains found back in 1975 in Middle Tennessee have been identified as those of Annie Carolyn Jenkins, a 19-year-old Memphis woman who disappeared in 1974. The big break comes after the Maury County Sheriff’s Office collaborated with the DNA Doe Project, an organization devoted to identifying unidentified remains.

The remains, discovered by hunters near Interstate 65 in Maury County, had confounded authorities for decades. According to WREG, Jenkins was last seen leaving Chicago on a flight to Tennessee in the fall of 1974. The young woman's body, accompanied by bones from a puppy, suggested the possibility of a car accident, but no conclusive evidence was ever found. The case was revived multiple times, notably in 2012 by retired Maury County Lt. Jerry Williams, but leads remained elusive.

The breakthrough was hard-won, requiring extensive genealogical research and several attempts at DNA profiling due to the degraded nature of the remains. "It was particularly difficult to extract enough DNA to build a workable profile for this case," Kevin Lord, Director of Lab Logistics, told WKRN. After over 530 hours of painstaking work, investigators finally located a full sibling, confirming the identity through a DNA match.

While Jenkins was never officially reported missing, her family never stopped looking for her, a relative revealed in an interview obtained by FOX13 Memphis. Their long search is now over, bringing an end to decades of uncertainty. The Maury County Sheriff's Department has since announced that Jenkins' remains will be returned to the family. The investigation into her death, now ruled a homicide, is ongoing.