New renderings released by police in Texas have given faces to two women found dead decades ago in the so-called Killing Fields, in an attempt to identify and bring justice to the cold case victims.
For perhaps longer than they had been alive, the women, in their deaths, have been known to the League City community as Jane and Janet Doe. The body of one of the women was found on Feb. 2, 1986, while the other was discovered on Sept. 8, 1991. They both were discovered on Calder Road near I-45.
Advances in technology may help finally identify them.
Investigators tapped Virginia-based DNA technology company Parabon NanoLabs to predict the physical appearances and ancestry of the unidentified women using their Snapshot DNA Phenotyping software.
The Snapshot analysis predicted the 1986 victim likely had ties and relatives that came from Tennessee. She was between 22 and 30 years old, and stood between 5-foot-5 and 5-foot-8. She had fair to very fair skin, blue or green eyes, blond or brown hair, and no or few freckles, police said.
She died between six weeks and six months before her body was found, and had been shot in the back with a small caliber gun, officials said. She had old, healed injuries which were unrelated to her death, including healed fractures to her fourth and fifth ribs that were likely the result of a singular event, authorities said.
The woman also had a noticeable gap in the upper portion of her front teeth.
The 1991 victim likely had relatives that came from Louisiana, specifically of Acadian descent, the Snapshot analysis predicted.
She was between the ages of 24 and 34, stood between 5 feet and 5-foot-3, and weighed between 100 and 130 pounds, authorities said. The woman likely had fair skin, hazel eyes, brown hair and no or few freckles. She died between six weeks and several months before her body was found, officials said.
The woman had numerous old, healed injuries that were unrelated to her death, including healed fractures to her spine. Her teeth were also in poor shape, which police said could have been the result of a single incident that occurred before she was killed.
“As a result of her injuries, the victim may have had apparent problems with her head or spinal movements,” police said.
In addition to determining that the victim came from Louisiana, officials were able to conclude specific parts of the state from which her relatives originated.
“The victim’s extended family may have originated: Broussard, Lafayette Parish, New Iberia, Abbeville, Breaux Bridge, and St. Martin Parish areas are of special interest, followed by Vermillion Parish, St. Landry Parish, and Assumption Parish,” police said.
Police appealed to the public to come forward if either of the women’s descriptions match loved ones who went missing in the same time frame.
“If you have any information that may help in this investigation, please call Lieutenant Michael Buffington of the League City Police Department at 281-338-8220,” police said.
Since the early 1970s, at least 30 bodies, mainly of girls and women, have been found in the Killing Fields. Some of the murders have been solved and linked to serial killers, while many remain open.
The discoveries of Jane and Janet Doe overlapped with the killings of two other women, whose bodies were found after they went missing from the area.
The first, who was found in 1984, was Heide Villareal-Fye, a local 24-year-old woman who vanished the year before. The second to be identified was Laura Miller, a teen who went missing from League City on Sept. 10, 1984, and was discovered in the field in 1986.
Miller’s father, Tim Miller, went on to create the Texas EquuSearch. His daughter’s killing remains unsolved, but he’s not lost hope that he and the families of the many other victims will one day have answers.
"I think what's developed now is something very, very positive,” Miller told KTRK-TV. “Technology has come a long way. I can't wait until phone calls start coming in."