Aunt’s 43-year wait for phone call
An American murder victim known for 43 years as Jane Doe #40 has been identified by investigators as 14-year-old Judy Gifford, who vanished at the age of just 14.
The breakthrough came after homicide cold case detectives and missing persons investigators launched a joint investigation in early 2019.
In a heartbreaking twist investigators revealed Ms Gifford's aunt kept the same phone number for decades in case her niece tried to call, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
The teenager's remains were discovered partially buried in sand by a man walking his dog near San Francisco's Lake Merced on October 1, 1976. Police found a gold chain with an owl pendant in the girl's pocket.
While combing through unsolved cases, investigators found a report filed in 2017 that said Ms Gifford had disappeared in San Francisco around the same time that Jane Doe #40 was killed in 1976, San Francisco police said.
The missing girl's half-brother, William Shin, reported his sister missing to San Francisco police at an unknown date after he "remembered having a sister when he was a child", a New Jersey State Police spokesperson said.
"He told investigators that his sister went missing when she was 14 years old, and his family had not seen or heard from her since 1976."
In June, detectives collected cheek swabs from Ms Gifford's paternal aunt, Ogee Gifford and obtained photographs and dental records.
That's when they noticed Ms Gifford was wearing a necklace with an owl pendant in some of the pictures. They compared Jane Doe #40's DNA and got a match with DNA taken from her aunt.
"(Ogee) Gifford, who has never changed her phone number in case her niece ever called, was brought some closure as a result of the joint effort," police said in a statement.
Investigators have reopened a murder inquiry into Ms Gifford's death.
- With wires