A newly formed cold case unit using DNA and investigative genealogy has finally given a name to an unidentified woman found dead in Upstate New York over three decades ago.
Westchester County District Attorney Miriam E. Rocah announced the victim, formerly known as “Jane Doe Mount Vernon,” is 19-year-old Veronica Wiederhold.
“The remarkable work by our Cold Case Bureau and law enforcement partners has granted one family the certainty and ability to mourn for their loved one after 33 years. A main goal of this Bureau is to give closure to families of homicide victims, and we know this is pain that never goes away,” Rocah said. “I know firsthand that solving crimes is one of the best ways we can try to get closure to victims’ families.”
According to the district attorney’s office, police have tried using forensic science to determine the victim’s identity for years. Recent advances in genetic genealogy made it possible to finally determine who she was in April by connecting investigators with relatives who had previously submitted their DNA to a genealogy website.
Wiederhold’s relatives, who live both in New York City and out of state, then provided additional DNA samples to the FBI, which has helped with the cold case investigation.
Family last saw Wiederhold alive in Brooklyn in 1987. The following year, Mount Vernon Police found Wiederhold’s nude body on a street just before noon on Valentine’s Day. Her murder remains unsolved.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact the Westchester District Attorney’s Office at (914) 995-TIPS.