Photo credit: Granby Police Department
On Monday in Granby, MA, First Assistant District Attorney Steven Gagne announced that an unidentified victim – known only as “Granby Girl” involved in a decades-long unsolved homicide case has finally been identified.
According to Western Mass News, in November 1978, a woman’s skeletal remains were found on a logging road in Granby, MA. An autopsy determined that she had died from a wound to the temple and had been dead for several months before being discovered under a pile of leaves.
She was believed to be between 19 and 27 years old.
The case had gone cold after authorities were left helpless in determining her identity and couldn’t take further action to investigate. But, in March 2022, 44 years after the body was found, DNA evidence was obtained from the remains and sent to a private forensic lab in Texas named Othram.
Scientists at Othram were able to get the DNA profile of the victim and used it to identify another woman living in Maryland who was possibly related to the victim.
“The hope was that with Othram’s cutting edge technology, we could not only extract a viable DNA sample from the victim, but then try to locate one or more living relatives she may have by searching various genealogy databases,” Gagne said Monday.
Upon further investigation, and with the help of the Maryland resident who was discovered to be the niece of the victim, they were able to track down the victim’s son, who was 5 years old when the victim disappeared.
Luckily for them, the son, Matthew Dale, had already uploaded his DNA to Ancestry.com and so they were able to compare the DNA from both parties through forensic genetic genealogy, and confirm the identity of the victim as Patricia Ann Tucker.
“The son had previously uploaded his DNA to the website Ancestry.com,” Gagne explained, “and was able to forward his profile to investigators. Later that very same day, Othram compared the son’s DNA profile to the DNA profile they had extracted from the victim’s remains. Othram confirmed the two DNA samples were a 100 percent parent-child match.”
Patricia had been married three times, welcoming Matthew in her second marriage. Her third marriage was to Gerald Coleman in 1977, a year before her disappearance. Investigators found that he was the last person to be seen with her before dropping Matthew off at a friend’s house, Laura Holmes, never to return.
“Matthew never again saw his mother from that point forward, nor did he have any further contact with Gerald Coleman,” Gagne said.
However, Coleman was serving time in a state prison before passing away in 1996. So, while they’re unable to question him, he is still the primary person of interest in the homicide of Tucker.
Gagne concluded his statement saying, “Now that we know Patricia’s identity and know who she was married to at the time of her disappearance, there may be people out there who know something about either one of them that could help further this investigation.”
Matthew was in attendance while the Assistant District Attorney spoke and also gave a statement about the recent findings.
“First I would like to say thank you to everyone in trying to identify my mother and wrapping your arms around her, especially the community of Granby,” he said. “Thank you for never giving up on her. At least I have some answers now after 44 years. It’s a lot to process, but hopefully, the closure can begin now. Thank you again.”