In November 1978, police found the body of a young woman who had been shot in the head. Unable to identify her, the police dubbed her the "Granby Girl." Forty-five years and one DNA profile later, family and investigators finally have answers.
Using advanced DNA analysis, authorities in Massachusetts have identified a Jane Doe dubbed the “Granby Girl” as Patricia Ann Tucker.
On Nov. 15, 1978, authorities found Tucker’s body under some leaves on a remote logging road in Granby, Massachusetts. Medical examinations determined that Tucker had been shot in the head and dragged by the neck with a belt, according to Amherst Bulletin.
According to People, the medical examiner initially determined that she had likely died the previous June and that her death was a homicide.
Unfortunately, no one could identify the woman, and she became Massachusetts’ “Granby Girl,” a Jane Doe that would remain anonymous for nearly 45 years. The state buried her with a headstone that read “Unknown.”
In 2021, a forensic laboratory in Texas called Othram tested the woman’s DNA and was able to create a genetic profile. This information led investigators to a woman in Maryland who was related to the unknown “Granby Girl.”
According to the BBC, the relative told investigators that she had an aunt who went missing in the 1970s at the age of 28, and that her aunt had two living sons.
Police were able to track down one of the sons, Matthew Dale. He confirmed that his mother Patricia Ann Tucker disappeared in 1978 when he was only five years old. Later, DNA tests confirmed a 100% parent-child match between Dale and the Granby Girl.
In a statement to People, Dale expressed his gratitude to the investigators and everyone involved in the effort to identify his mother.
“First, I would like to say thank you to everyone in trying to identify my mother and wrapping your arms around her, especially the community of Granby. Thank you for never giving up on her,” Dale said. “At least I have some answers now after 44 years. It’s a lot to process, but hopefully, closure can begin now.”
While family and investigators rejoiced at the news, many are still hoping to find answers as to who killed Tucker.
“While it’s satisfying to finally know who ‘Granby Girl’ actually was, the investigation won’t stop until we identify her killer,” said First Assistant Northwestern District Attorney Steven Gagne, according to the BBC.
Dale told police that his mother had been dating a man by the name Gerald Coleman at the time of her disappearance. Records later revealed that the two were actually married.
Further investigation would establish a timeline of events: On Aug. 8, 1978, Dale was dropped off at a friend’s house, and while reports offer conflicting accounts on whether it was Coleman or Tucker who dropped him off, neither of them ever returned to pick him up. The friend eventually called social services, and Tucker’s ex-husband, Dale’s biological father, picked him up.
Despite Dale’s claims that the friend reported his mother missing, investigators could not find evidence of this report in any missing persons database, according to Amherst Bulletin.
Next, police shifted their focus to Gerald Coleman, who notably never reported his wife missing. But unfortunately, they were unable to question him. According to ABC news, Coleman was convicted of rape and assault in 1995, and he died a year later in prison.
“We do not yet formally have probable cause to charge anyone with Patricia’s murder,” Gagne told the BBC. Still, Coleman is a “person of interest” in the case.
Currently, investigators are hoping more leads will surface that will allow them to better piece together what ultimately happened to Tucker.
“We’re looking to speak to anyone who knew Patricia at any time in her life,” Gagne told the Amherst Bulletin. Investigators are also asking for information about Coleman.
Any information could be helpful in bringing the family closer to finding answers, and investigators are prepared to work for however long it takes.
“This investigation has spanned decades, and will continue until each and every possible lead is explored,” Gagne concluded.
“Unsolved cases sometimes seem to go cold, but investigators never give up,” Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan said to Law and Crime. “The Massachusetts State Police, Granby Police and Northwestern District Attorney’s staff worked collaboratively for years to achieve this breakthrough in the investigation and — most importantly — provide some answers to the victim’s family.”
After learning about how police identified the “Granby Girl” using DNA, discover how DNA led to the capture of California’s most infamous serial killer, the Golden State Killer. Then, read about the smallest DNA sample in history used to solve a decades-old murder.