Her Remains Were Found In A Garment Bag In 1978. She Was Just Identified.
Human remains found in 1978 have been identified as Florence Charleston.
Nevada Department of Public Safety

In October 1978, a garment bag containing the heavily decayed remains of a woman was discovered in a remote area of Nevada, just two hours north of Reno.

The Pershing County Sheriff’s Office, which led the initial investigation into the remains, found some articles of women’s clothing along with the body, the Associated Press reported. The remains were sent for an autopsy, which determined the remains likely belonged to a middle-aged woman. The autopsy was unable to determine a cause of death, however.

With no identity and no leads, the case was eventually entered into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System. The entry included a rendering of what the woman was thought to look like and included a description that she was likely 5-foot-5 with red or auburn hair. Police also noted that the woman may have been left-handed. The clothing items found with the body were described as a dark-green sweater with a white safety pin on the front, along with dark-green pants and a long-sleeved pink sweater, the AP reported.

A few months after the remains were found, the Nevada State Police joined the investigation, attempting digital facial reconstruction and comparing dental records for other missing person and unsolved cases. They also tried to get clues from the clothing found with the remains, but they were unable to determine who the woman was or how she died.

The case remained cold for 45 years.

But this week, Nevada State Police announced that they were able to use forensic genealogy analysis to identify the deceased woman. Working with Othram Inc, a private laboratory that has been helping law enforcement solve crimes and identify bodies by comparing DNA to databases of those who have voluntarily provided DNA to genealogy kits, like “23 and Me,” and finding family members of the deceased.


Using this technique, the woman was identified as Florence Charleston, who had recently moved to Portland, Oregon, from Cleveland, Ohio, before she died.

One of her few surviving relatives, Diane Liggitt, told the AP that she was 18 when her aunt Florence moved to Portland with her new boyfriend. Liggit said she often thought about her aunt over the years.

“Was she happy, or not? Was she safe?” Liggitt told the outlet. “All these questions I had, and it turns out she was dead.”

Police say the investigation into Charleston’s death is ongoing, and it is still unknown at this time how she ended up in the garment bag in Nevada, 535 miles from where she lived in Oregon. She would have been 68 when she died.

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Her Remains Were Found In A Garment Bag In 1978. She Was Just Identified.