PECOS, Texas (KMID) – Police in Pecos, Texas announced that an unidentified teenager found dead in a swimming pool has been identified, a major break in a cold case dating back to the 1960s.
According to police the investigation was opened back on July 5, 1966 in reference to a drowning.
The 17-year-old girl, identified through DNA matching and genealogy tracing, is Jolaine Hemmy.
Hemmy was a native of Salina, Kansas. She was seen at the Ropers Motel with a man who has not been identified, but police are still investigating.
At this time, police do not know if her death was an accident or if foul play is suspected. Police mentioned that, following her death, the man had asked the office at the Ropers Motel for his registration card, saying it was the only form of identification he had to go to the hospital. According to Pecos Police Chief Lisa Tarango, he never arrived at the hospital.
Tarango visited Hemmy’s family last week to notify them of the DNA match, saying it was an emotional visit, and describing it as “talking to the family 50 years ago.”
They collected a DNA sample from Hemmy’s body and were able to identify a distant relative of hers through public DNA records. Genealogists were then able to create a family tree, which led them to Hemmy’s sister in Florida. Her DNA sample identified the “Unknown Girl Drowned” as Jolaine Hemmy.
Police are also investigating the reason why Hemmy had left her hometown in Kansas, and what she was doing in Pecos. Locals said at the time that many people had come to town for the rodeo, which was around the same time as her death. Police have not confirmed that information.
“Today we are going to give her her name back,” Chief Lisa Tarango said Tuesday afternoon.
Chief Tarango also noted that it is still an open and ongoing investigation.