Thanks to the work of a Texas-based forensics firm, the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) has identified the woman who is at the center of a cold case homicide dating back to 1972.
According to HCSO Public Information Officer (PIO) Denise Moloney, the case began on July 19, 1972, when the body of an unidentified woman was found in the area of High Center Road and Cortez Boulevard in Brooksville.
When she was found, the woman, who was described as about 5 feet tall, between 30 and 40 years of age, between 125 and 145 pounds with short brown hair with just six upper and six lower teeth, was wrapped in a bedspread that had a distinct “Pineapple Damask” print pattern and three square and one rounded corner.
At the time, investigators believed that the woman had traveled to Hernando County from either north Florida or Alabama and details in the case were entered into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs).
In 2022, the HCSO submitted forensic evidence to Othram in The Woodlands, Texas, hoping that advanced DNA testing and forensic genetic genealogy could generate new investigative leads in the case, the firm said in a written statement.
Othram scientists subsequently successfully developed a DNA extract from the skeletal remains and used Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing® to develop a comprehensive DNA profile. Othram’s in-house forensic genetic genealogy team used the DNA profile to generate new leads in the case.
In the coming years, the leads in the case were scant. As the investigation into the case continued, HCSO Detective George Loydgren was able to collect a reference sample from a possible member of the woman’s family and submit it to Othram so that the firm could compare the DNA of the possible family member to that belonging to the Jane Doe.
In August 2022, Michael Vogen of Othram Labs told Loydgren that the forensics firm had positively identified Jane Doe as Peggy Joyce Shelton of Kentucky, who was born on March 30, 1943.
Finally, on Sept. 14, 2022, Othram Labs sent Loydgren a “kinship report,” which positively identified Jane Doe as Peggy Joyce Shelton.
Though the victim has been identified, Loydgren is still working to identify whoever is responsible for the murder of Peggy Joyce Shelton.
Anyone with information about the cold case should call Loydgren at 352-754-6830 or submit a tip to Hernando County Crime Stoppers by phoning 1-866-990-TIPS (8477), texting **TIPS from a cell phone or by visiting http://www.hernandocountycrimestoppers.com.
All Crime Stoppers tipsters remain anonymous and could be eligible for a cash reward of up to $5,000.