Almost 30 years after his murder, California police have identified the victim in the "Lady in the Fridge" murder case. Investigators gave the unsolved case – a so-called cold case – its name because a empties collector found the woman's body in a refrigerator in 1995 in the community of Holt in San Joaquin County. The dead woman had no ID on her and there was no missing person's report that matched her. According to police, the woman had been lying dead in the partially submerged refrigerator by an irrigation canal for at least six months.
"It's been an unsolved case for 27 years," San Joaquin County Sheriff Patrick Withrow said at a news conference. "We have been unable to identify this beautiful young woman who was found in a refrigerator in a remote area of our county." Today, however, he is "with a heavy heart to announce" that modern technology has enabled the victim's identity to be clarified, Withrow said. It is Amanda Lynn D., who was 29 when she disappeared, most likely the year before her body was discovered.
On behalf of the investigators, Othram Forensics, a private laboratory in the Texas city of Houston, found out through DNA analysis and genealogical research who the human remains belonged to, police said. The lab says it's using new technology to extract hundreds of thousands of genetic markers from DNA evidence, instead of the 20 that would normally be used by law enforcement. A family tree was created using these markers to find possible known relatives, Othram Forensics reported in a statement. One came across the mother and daughter of the dead. They had provided the investigators with their own DNA, with the help of which the victim was then clearly identified.
"We spoke to several family members," Withrow said. "They are grateful that we have identified them. They were of course shocked by the news, but they really hope that we can somehow clear this up." The family was completely in the dark about Amanda D.'s situation, the sheriff said.
According to Othram, the woman had three young children and lived separately from her husband. She was last seen at an unidentified apartment complex in the city of Napa, accompanied by an unidentified man she may have met at a rehabilitation facility. Sheriff's Chief Investigator Linda Jimenez said the 29-year-old was most likely going through a tough time at the time of her disappearance.
According to investigators and the coroner, Amanda D. was killed by blunt force trauma. With the help of the new findings, they now hope to fully clear up the case of the "lady in the fridge" and also to find her killer. So perhaps a reconstruction of the victim's last days, probably in late summer or fall of 1994, could help find former friends and possible witnesses who could provide important new information. A $10,000 reward has been offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrator.
Sources: San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office on Facebook, Othram Forensics, "Law