DNA and Investigative Work Solve Cold Case Murder Mystery in Connecticut

By worldwidetracers.com Mar 18, 2024

DNA and Investigative Work

In a remarkable turn of events, nearly half a century after the gruesome discovery of skeletal remains buried in a shallow grave, Connecticut State Police made a breakthrough announcement on Wednesday: one of the long-unknown victims had finally been identified.

DNA

The individual in question was Linda Sue Childers, who met a tragic end as one of two victims in a double homicide that occurred on December 31, 1970. The remains were unearthed in Ledyard, Connecticut, in 1974, almost three and a half years following the brutal murders. Despite years of investigation, the victim’s identity remained a persistent mystery, with no DNA matches to provide leads, compounded by the fact that Childers had used an alias that could not be verified by authorities.

Richard DeFreitas and Donald Brant, two men arrested and convicted of the crimes shortly after the discovery of the bodies, have since passed away, leaving behind unanswered questions and unresolved details of the case, as revealed by state police.

Unraveling the Mystery: Delving into Clues

In the wake of the grim discovery, investigators found various personal effects alongside Childers’ remains, offering potential leads to her identity. Among these items were clothing pieces—a tan leather “wet look” vest, a gold or tan sweater, a brown tweed skirt, and a pair of brown granny boots—as well as jewelry, including a pendant and rings. Notably, a class ring with the initials J.H.S.N. monogrammed and the initials I.L.N. alongside the date 1917 engraved inside, provided further clues.

Despite these tangible leads, the task of identifying Childers remained elusive for decades. Her case data, along with dental X-rays and a detailed description, were uploaded to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System in 2011, followed by entry into the Combined DNA Index System in 2012, as disclosed by state police.

Harnessing Technological Advancements in Forensic Science

The breakthrough in the case came through advancements in forensic science technology and the innovative utilization of forensic investigative genetic genealogy—a method that intertwines DNA analysis with traditional genealogical research. In July 2022, DNA samples were sent to a private genetic genealogy company, which collaborated with state authorities to reopen the investigation, culminating in significant progress.

In January 2024, the persistence of investigators bore fruit as DNA results successfully identified Childers’ sister, subsequently leading to the confirmation of Childers’ own identity through DNA obtained from her daughter in February 2024, as highlighted in the official release.

Finding Closure: Bringing Answers to the Family

The revelation of Linda Sue Childers’ identity brought a measure of closure to her family, shedding light on her whereabouts in the northeast in the years leading up to her disappearance. The significance of this breakthrough was underscored in the official statement, which expressed gratification at providing answers to the family after decades of uncertainty.

The Unveiled Companion: Gustavous Lee Carmichael

Alongside Childers, the other victim was previously identified as Gustavous Lee Carmichael, a convicted serial bank robber who had once managed to escape from federal custody, according to state police sources cited by CNN. While Childers’ identity had eluded investigators for decades, Carmichael’s background adds intriguing layers to the narrative of this decades-old crime.

In retrospect, the resolution of this long-standing mystery underscores the power of persistence, technological advancements, and collaborative efforts in forensic investigations. As the shadows of the past gradually recede, the identification of Linda Sue Childers stands as a testament to the unwavering commitment of law enforcement agencies to seek justice, even across the vast expanse of time.

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