“Who is ‘Orange Socks,’ and who killed her?”
They’re questions the Williamson County Sheriff's Office in Texas has been asking for nearly 40 years, ever since the body of a woman was found in a ditch along Interstate 35 on Halloween 1979.
The woman was face down and wore a pair of orange socks, her only clothing and the only identifier police had to offer the public in their decades-long quest to reunite her with her identity.
“We have little to no leads that have been going on,” Sgt. John Pokorny with the Williamson County Cold Case Unit told FOX7, noting the woman was an “obvious victim of a homicide.”
Investigators in 1982 thought they were closer to answers when Henry Lee Lucas confessed to picking up the woman in Oklahoma and killing her along the interstate before dumping her body in Williamson County. Lucas, a serial killer convicted of killing 11 people, was sentenced to death only for Orange Socks’ death.
But Lucas, who confessed to 600 murders in more than 20 states, went on to recant most of his confessions, including in the killing of Orange Socks.
“Nobody knows how many people he killed,” Former Williamson County District Attorney Ed Walsh previously told FOX7.
In 1998, Lucas’ case was reviewed by then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush, who found evidence he was in Florida at the time of Orange Socks’ killing. His sentence was commuted to life in prison and he died in 2001.
Officials continued their work to find answers and in January, Sheriff Robert Chody announced preliminary forensic evidence testing on DNA found on the victim's socks found two or more male contributors.
Authorities are further processing the DNA to separate the contributors and potentially generate profiles, according to FOX7.
They plan to utilize genetic genealogy resources to further their investigation.
“The only way we can go through and research unidentified person to help identify them, is through those databases. There’s other law enforcement databases we can research but those are more suspect-driven,” Pokomy said.
Police released a new sketch of Orange Socks to the public in the hopes that the rendering will generate new leads.
“We’re gonna keep doing what we can to help bring a voice to her, identify her and in the end bring those responsible to justice,” Pokomy added.
Anyone with information on the case is asked to call the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office Cold Case Unit at 512-943-5204.