cold case

After 20 Years, Human Remains Identified as Missing Arlington Woman

A skull and bones were found along a highway in East Texas in 2002

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Human remains found along a rural highway in East Texas 20 years ago have been identified as those of an Arlington woman.

When construction workers found the remains near Longview in May 2002, police had almost nothing to go on.

No victim's name.

Not even a cause of death.

"All we had to go off of was a skull and some partial bones,” Gregg County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Craig Harrington said. "Obviously we did an initial search back then, an initial search back then, trying to find missing person reports. We didn't find anything. So the case went cold."

Over the years, investigators never gave up.

They ended up working with Kevin Lord of the nonprofit DNA Doe Project who spent 15 months researching the DNA through genealogical databases.

"This case really became personal to me,” he said. "Eventually we were able to finally narrow that down to a particular family and then eventually saw that Pamela lived in the Dallas area and that piqued our interest."

With the help of DNA from her daughter, the mystery woman was identified as Pamela Darlene Young of Arlington.

Her family had never reported her missing and told police she lived a transient life.

But they gave investigators important information about someone they wanted to question.

"However, we then learned that the person of interest in her disappearance, is what we would say, has since passed away in 2017,” Harrington said.

Investigators are suspicious about what happened and the case remains open.

But they stop short of labeling the death a homicide.

"It's always kind of bittersweet,” the DNA researcher said. “I'm always glad when we're able to come to some resolution. We don't know what happened to her but we're able to at least provide some answers to the family so they're not left wondering what happened to her."

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