27 year old cold case solved by ASO, GPD, FDLE

Published: Nov. 16, 2017 at 5:34 PM EST
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27 years after an elderly woman went missing, her family is finally getting closure.

Alachua County Sheriff's deputies matched an unidentified human remains case with a Gainesville Police missing persons' case from the 1990s. DNA evidence was the missing link in solving the cold case.

In March of 1990, 78 year old Ella Mae Williams went missing from her home in Southeast Gainesville.

"She's missed by her sisters, her siblings. They're all gone and they always wondered what happened to their sister," said Lynne Jackson Stevens, granddaughter of Williams. "Finally. Finally. Closure."

Sheriff Sadie Darnell was with GPD at the time. She remembers the case. "We had high hopes that she would be found. It was known that she had dementia. She was 78 years old. We knew she had most likely wandered off," she said.

A missing persons report was filed with GPD, but no one could find her.

According to ASO, kids were playing in a wooded area about 500 yards from the corner of SE 43rd Terrace and 24th Avenue and came across a human skull and brought it home in 2001, leading ASO investigators to more unidentified bones.

A few months ago, an unrelated case brought a family member of Williams to ASO.

ASO Cold Case Homicide Detective Kevin Allen said, "We did some research and there was an adjacent missing person many many years ago before we found our Jane Doe, so we did some familial DNA testing and it came back as a match."

With the help of the FDLE, the cases were put together and solved.

"I can't thank them enough for how much they've done for us, this family," said Stevens.

Detectives do not think anyone was responsible for her death, Williams had Dementia and could have wandered into the woods and died of natural causes. Her family is grateful to finally have some answers.

Nuguana Cowvins, another granddaughter, said "I'm just so so glad that they didn't give up, because we did. We really did."

Her remains are at the UF Pound Human ID Lab for further testing into the cause of death.