Girl found murdered in New York identified after 35 years

CALEDONIA, NEW YORK (BNO NEWS) -- A young girl who was found murdered in a field in western New York more than three decades ago has been identified as a Florida teenager who had never been reported missing, Florida officials say, hours after a New York sheriff confirmed the girl's body had been identified.

Denise Moloney, a spokeswoman for the Hernando County Sheriff's Office in Florida, said the unidentified body in New York had been identified as Tammy Jo Alexander using mitochondrial DNA. Tammy had disappeared sometime between 1977 and 1979 but was never reported missing by her family.

The Florida sheriff's office said its investigation into Tammy's disappearance began in August 2014 when a woman called them to report that Tammy, her former classmate and friend, was missing. Investigators made contact with Sharen Nelson, Tammy's stepsister, who confirmed that the girl was missing and that the family had never reported it.

Earlier on Monday, Livingston County Sheriff Thomas Dougherty in New York said the unidentified body discovered in 1979 had finally been identified, but he declined to provide further details pending a press conference later on Monday.

The 'Jane Doe', now identified as Tammy, was found in the early morning hours of November 10, 1979, when a local farmer and his son were checking their fields off Route 20 in a rural area of Caledonia, a town southwest of Rochester. Tammy - who had turned 16 just days earlier - had been shot and left to die in a cold, desolate cornfield.

Livingston County Sheriff John York had been the lead investigator on the case, which was the talk of the town for several years. Thousands upon thousands of leads have been developed over the past decades, but none had been able to determine the victim's identity, nor that of her killer or killers.

In November 2010, the sheriff's office said it had brought in the FBI and the New York State Police.

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