HARLAN COUNTY, KENTUCKY - More than four decades ago, a man picking flowers alongside a rural Kentucky road on Pine Mountain made a horrifying discovery--- the body of a young woman.
Investigators in Harlan County determined that the woman, in her late teens or early twenties, had been stabbed multiple times. They didn't know who she was, or why she was killed.
The locals called her Mountain Jane Doe.
Now, 47 years later, modern technology has finally given the young woman not only a name, but a family.
Several years ago, Kentucky State Police entered her information into a database called NamUs (National Missing and Unidentified Persons System), hoping that someone was looking for her.
In 2009, Karen Stipes searched the NamUs database looking for her mother, Sonja Kaye Blair-Adams, and learned about Mountain Jane Doe.
She reached out to KSP Detective Josh Howard and Harlan County coroner Philip Bianchi to see if there was a possibility, after all these years, that she had found her.
The body was exhumed, and sent to the University of North Texas in 2015 to compare the DNA of the unidentified woman and Stipes.
When the analysis was finally complete this month, investigators confirmed that Mountain Jane Doe was Blair-Adams, who went missing from her home in Letcher County, Kentucky, when she was only 21 years old.
Now that she has finally been identified, investigators are renewing their search for her killer.
Through the years, the story has garnered national interest. It's been featured in a book and caught the attention of filmmakers.
The non-profit Reveal for the Center of Investigative Reporting spent several years traveling to Harlan.
"Something about Mountain Jane Doe's case kept drawing us back, something compelling about it," said journalist G.W. Schultz.
Blair-Adams was a major part of their 2015 documentary "The Dead Unknown."
"When I first saw her photograph, I had a deep emotional reaction," said director and producer of the documentary, Michael Schiller after hearing the news.
Stories like Mountain Jane Doe's were the inspiration for their pieces, which had a second and third part.
"We've been really interested by people in the United States who've been found dead and not identified by authorities," said Schultz. "We set out to understand on a national scale, this phenomenon."
Police say the identification is just one small step in solving this case. They are still on the hunt for the killer. If you have any information, you are asked to call Kentucky State Police-Post 10 at 606-573-3131.
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