Victims in 1976 Cold Case Identified as Investigation Resume | Inside Edition

Victims in 1976 Cold Case Identified as Investigation Resume

Pamela Buckley, 25 and James Freund, 30 have been identified in 1976 cold case
Pamela Buckley, 25 and James Freund, 30 have been identified in 1976 cold caseSumter County, S.C. Sheriff’s Office

The two bodies had multiple gunshot wounds when they were discovered off of Interstate 95 in South Carolina by a truck driver on August 9, 1976.

A 1976 John and Jane Doe cold case was reopened after the victims were finally identified, with thanks going in part to a South Carolina man who helped investigators in the identification of a missing couple, according to CBS local affiliate WLTX

Pamela Mae Buckley, 25, of Minnesota, and James Paul Freund, 30, of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, were reported missing by their families, according to The Associated Press. The bodies of the pair were discovered off of Interstate 95 in South Carolina by a truck driver on August 9, 1976, with multiple gunshot wounds, but remained unidentified until recently. 

Buckley was last seen and reported missing from Colorado Springs, Colorado, in December of 1975 and Freund was last seen in the Lancaster area during the same time, according to the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office, WAHC News reported.

For nearly four decades, investigators followed different leads, but came up cold. The pair were eventually buried as Jane and John Doe. In 2007, their bodies were exhumed and DNA was collected, according to the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office, reported the AP.

A break in the case came in June 2019, when Matt McDaniel, a resident of Clemson who had been following the case, told investigators to contact The DNA Doe Project, a nonprofit that works to identify deceased persons using forensic genealogy. The nonprofit was able to identify Buckley and Freund, WACH reported. 

On Jan. 21, Sumter County Sheriff Anthony Dennis made the announcement that the pair had been identified, WIS News reported.

“The victims' families have been notified and have asked for privacy, according to WACH.

“It’s our hope that this news will bring the families some kind of closure,” Dennis told WLTX.  

Jean Graham, a longtime Sumter resident, whose father Ira Byrd Parnell, was the former Sumter County Sheriff told WIS News  that her father “had a tender heart and really cared about people,” and spent much of his life trying to solve the case.

“I know it bothered him that they couldn’t identify these people,” said Graham, who explained that one year after the bodies were found, her father decided to bury them in the cemetery behind their family church, Bethel United Methodist. A funeral service was held. The mystery of the man and woman’s identity stayed with her family for the last four decades.

The homicide investigation into their death is still open and active. Authorities hope the identities and photographs of Buckley and Freund will help someone come forward. 

Anyone with information can contact the Sumter County Sheriff's Office or their Crime Stoppers at 1-888-274-6372 or www.midlandscrimestoppers.com 

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