HARLAN, Ky. — Kentucky State Police have identified the remains of a woman found dead nearly 50 years ago beside a trail in eastern Kentucky.
Police said in a statement Wednesday that the remains of Sonja Kaye Blair-Adams were was identified through DNA testing after her information was entered into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System.
A man picking flowers along Little Shepherd Trail in Harlan County found her body in 1969. Police determined she had been stabbed.
Police say her daughter, Karen Stipes, learned of the case and contacted officials saying the Jane Doe may be her mother.
Police said they exhumed the body in 2015 to obtain a DNA sample, and learned this month that it matches Stipes’ DNA.
“It’s almost surreal at this point,” Harlan County coroner Philip Bianchi told WYMT-TV. “It’s a very rare circumstance and it’s something that we’re seeing more across the country because of the technology that’s available to law enforcement, coroners, medical examiners today.”
State police Detective Josh Howard, who has been working the case since 2013, said Stipes was an infant when her mother, who was originally from Letcher County, was killed. She was raised by her grandparents.
“Growing up, she always wondered where her mother was, why her mother didn’t come back for her,” Howard told the Lexington Herald-Leader.
Police are continuing to investigate. Howard said he hopes to find the person who stabbed her, and urged anyone with information to call police at 606-573-3131.