DNA Testing Identifies Cold Case Victim

DNA Testing Identifies Cold Case Victim

Police released this photo of 16-year-old Sharon Lane holding her baby daughter beside her husband Danny in 1976. She later had a son, as well.

Police released this photo of 16-year-old Sharon Lane holding her baby daughter beside her husband Danny in 1976. She later had a son, as well.

Detectives from Fairfax County Police Department’s Major Crimes Bureau Cold Case Squad have solved the mystery of a woman found dead in 1993 at the base of a cedar tree in Centreville. She was identified Nov. 21 as Sharon Kay Abbott Lane.

Her identification was made possible by advanced DNA testing and forensic-grade, genome sequencing provided by Othram Inc. Funding for this testing was provided by anonymous donors through DNASolves.

On Dec. 6, 1993, landscapers discovered human skeletal remains in a wooded area in the 6800 block of Sharpsburg Drive in Centreville. Detectives responded to the scene, where they gathered evidence that they believed belonged to the victim. These items included jewelry, deteriorated clothing, a red comb and a yellow barrette.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner believed the body was that of a female between 28-39 years old. Experts determined that she’d sustained several stab and knife wounds to the upper body. 

Police say Lane was last heard from around 1987 and was believed to be living in Fairfax County. Some three to four years later, her late father received an anonymous phone call from a woman stating that his daughter was dead. But there are still many unanswered questions related to her death, such as who was responsible and what was the motive.

However, Major Ed O’Carroll, of the Major Crimes, Cyber and Forensics Bureau, remains optimistic. “The tragic death of Sharon Kay Abbott Lane is now closer to being solved with the help of advanced DNA testing,” he said. “Our detectives will use this new information to continue to seek justice for the victim in this case.”

According to police, Othram used advanced Forensic Genetic Genealogy technology to identify a possible family member of Lane’s. Detectives contacted that person, which then led to additional family connections across the nation. Police combed through the names and made many calls to track down Lane’s immediate family. 

Furthermore, with the help of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia, Fairfax County detectives were able to make contact with a family member who led them to Lane’s brother and, eventually, her children. A DNA sample provided to Othram confirmed the match.

Meanwhile, police here continue asking the public for help in solving Lane’s murder. “We encourage anyone who may have known Sharon or her associates to contact our detectives,” said O’Carroll. “They’d like to hear from you.” Tips may be submitted anonymously via Crime Solvers by phoning 1-866-411-TIPS.

The yellow barrette and red comb police found at the scene.