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Texas Authorities Identify Remains from 2013 Jane Doe Cold Case

State

Midland Police Unit | Image by KOSA

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Texas Rangers are opening a homicide investigation after extensive DNA analysis confirmed human remains found near Midland belong to a 16-year-old teenage girl who went missing in 2000.

The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) made the announcement on Monday, which declared the remains “positively identified as Sylvia Nicole Smith” and that her cause of death was a homicide.

DPS explained that workers surveying land south of Midland discovered the partial remains back in 2013, which had to be sent to the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification. The center’s lab concluded that the remains belonged to a female between the ages of 14-21 who likely died of homicide.

The case went dormant for several years after a DNA sample from the remains did not match anything in the Combined DNA Index System.

Then, in 2020, Texas Rangers and the Midland County District Attorney’s Office resurrected the matter by submitting samples for advanced DNA analysis, which concluded that the victim was of African-American descent and identified their eye color, hair color, and skin tone.

A genetic genealogist got involved and helped authorities find someone distantly related to the victim. Rangers gathered information about the family and eventually, in May 2022, found Smith’s mother living in the Midland area. She said that one of her daughters went missing in 2000.

The Center for Human Identification positively identified Smith’s remains on June 9.

Smith’s mother last saw her daughter on February 14, 2000, Valentine’s Day. She filed a runaway report with the Midland Police Department four days later.

DPS did not provide any details as to how it was determined that Smith died by homicide.

A reward of $3,000 is being offered by Texas Crime Stoppers for any information that leads to an arrest in connection with Smith’s death.    

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