Friends and family of a woman who disappeared more than 25 years ago finally have closure after Fairfax County Police Department detectives identified a previously unknown suicide victim as Joyce Meyer, 69.
On December 18, 1996, officers responded to a call at an Annandale residence, where they discovered the body of an unknown woman beside a small Christmas tree. Responding personnel found two envelopes tucked away in the woman’s pocket, one containing a suicide note and the other filled with money to pay for her funeral expenses, according to an FCPD report. Both notes were signed “Jane Doe.”
A subsequent investigation ruled out any foul play, but when none of the region’s missing persons cases matched Meyer’s description, department personnel were left with the mystery of “The Christmas Tree Lady” — until now.
Using advanced genome sequencing, DNA testing, and genealogy technology, officials at the Texas-based genetics company Othram, Inc., were able to track down an individual they believed to be a relative of Meyer. After a DNA sample confirmed the match, additional connections and corroborated accounts from estranged siblings followed, the release said.
“After decades of wondering what happened to their loved one, Joyce’s family is finally at peace thanks to the dedicated work of several generations of FCPD detectives, anonymous donors, and Othram,” Maj. Ed O’Carroll, FCPD’s bureau commander of Major Crimes, Cyber & Forensics, said in a release.
“Our detectives never stopped working for Joyce and her family. Advances in technology will continue to help close cases and provide answers to victim’s families.”
Accounts from family indicated that Meyer came to Fairfax County during the mid- to late-1980s. She had no family in the immediate area, the report said.
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