In October 1978, a woman’s remains were found in a garment bag two hours north of Reno. After an initial investigation by the Pershing County Sheriff’s Office, the remains were sent in for an autopsy, but the cause of death was inconclusive, according to The Daily Wire.
It was only recently did Nevada State Police identify the victim with the help of advanced DNA testing technology. Florence Charleston moved from Cleveland, Ohio to Portland, Oregon just before her death. But it is still a mystery how she died and why she was found over 530 miles away from her new home. Charleston would have been 69 years old when she died.
One of Charleston’s relatives, Diane Liggitt, said that when she was 18 her father told her that her aunt, Charleston, had left with her boyfriend for the Pacific Northwest in the early 1970s. They did not hear from Charleston again after that. Liggitt said that she often wondered about what came of her aunt and whether she was happy. After all these years, she said, “It turns out she was dead.”
Charleston was put into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System. To the best of their abilities, police described her as being 5-foot-5 with red or auburn hair. She was eventually identified when Nevada police teamed up with Othram Inc., a private laboratory that has helped solve other cold cases. They specialize in forensic genealogy analysis and use DNA from the remains to help identify where the person came from.
Liggitt reportedly received a phone call from Detective Sean Koester in October 2022 after he took over the case. After using a DNA sample from Liggitt’s cousin, they were finally able to put a name and face on the victim. Liggitt has said that she hopes they solve her aunt’s murder within her lifetime. Liggitt is now around the same age as her aunt.