Authorities say a woman’s skeletal remains were identified 44 years after her murder.
According to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, the woman long known to investigators as “Escatawpa Jane Doe,” has been identified as Clara Birdlong.
Birdlong was discovered on a Mississippi construction site in 1977. Investigators believe that she was the victim of Samuel Little, the most prolific murderer in American history.
According to the department, Birdlong’s remains were found by hunters near a highway in Jackson County, Dec. 27, 1977. The woman was probably a black woman of short stature with a prominent frontal gold tooth. She also likely wore a wig.
Officials believe she was found about three to four months after her death.
“Several facial reconstructions and computer-generated composites were made to help her identify over the years,” authorities stated.
The breakthrough came when Mississippi authorities contracted a Texas DNA facility to create a family history based on Birdlong’s DNA. The cousin from Mississippi then connected the two to her grandmother, a 93-year old grandmother.
The grandmother told investigators that her cousin was born around 1933 and went missing from Leflore County sometime in the 1970’s.
“Another distant cousin in Texas said Clara went by the nickname “Nuttin,” and described her as a small woman who had a gold front tooth and wore a wig,” the sheriff’s department said. “The cousin also recalled Clara disappeared in the 1970’s.”
In August, a woman in LeFlore County who remembered Birdlong told investigators that the victim the county in the 70’s with a Black man “who claimed to be passing through Mississippi on his way to Florida.”
Investigators confirmed that Birdlong never saw or was heard from again.
Investigators confirmed in September that Birdlong’s DNA was identical to that of the grandmother.
Little is considered the prime suspect by the sheriff’s bureau.
Her cause of death remains undetermined.