The skeletal remains of a woman, who was murdered and dumped in the California desert in 1946, have been identified through DNA evidence, officials said on Friday.
A family DNA match showed that the bones, found scattered in the Mojave Desert near Baker in 1971, are those of an Orange County woman, Betty Walraven, said the San Bernardino coroner's office.
Walraven's great-nephew, Shawne Walraven, said that the remains had been unidentified since 1971, when a man stumbled upon a human skull and informed the San Bernardino County Sheriff's deputies of his find, reports Reuters.
In 1975, the Santa Ana police notified the San Bernardino investigators that a man had confessed to killing Betty Walraven, also known as Betty Fleming, 29 years ago and dumped her body in the desert.
The suspect, who served time on the California death row, confessed that a female companion had shot Betty Walraven in the back of the head and he had helped the woman dispose of Betty's body in the desert, Shawne Walraven told Reuters.
Authorities had tried to connect the bones found in 1971 to Betty Walraven's murder in 1946, but the case remained unsolved till 2005. In December 2005, highly degraded biological samples were delivered to the California Department of Justice DNA laboratory in Richmond, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, Coroner's Division. After six years, coroner's officials were notified, on June 1, that a DNA profile had been developed from the remains and were found to be a match to Betty Walraven.
Shawne Walraven said that detectives still don't know the motive for the murder. Shawne Walraven, who is also the chief of the DeKalb, Texas, Police Department, did some investigation of his own, according to a LA Times report. His great uncle told him that Betty was cheating on her husband, who was serving overseas during World War II, and on a visit to Texas, Betty and this man stole a $10,000 war bond from Betty's parents and escaped to California, stated the report.
The suspect who confessed to Betty Walraven's murder died in prison. Police officials are digging up files to determine whether he was ever charged or convicted.