FAIRFAX, Va. — Twenty-one years after a construction crew discovered skeletal remains behind an apartment building, Fairfax County police have solved at least one of the mysteries of the case. Investigators identified the body as Patricia Agnes Gildawie, a 17-year-old girl who has been missing since 1975.
On Sept. 27, 2001, a construction crew working in the 5100 block of Lincoln Circle found a body, along with some clothing, behind an apartment complex. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and an anthropologist recovered and reviewed the remains.
According to police, an initial review determined the remains were those of a woman who died from a gunshot wound to the head. A report at the time indicated the woman was likely African American in her late teens to early 20s.
Cold case detectives worked earlier this year with Othram Inc., which provides advanced DNA testing and forensic-grade genome sequencing. Despite initial reports, the agencies learned the remains belonged to a caucasian woman.
“Identifying this young woman solves a mystery that has been more than 47 years in the making,” said Ed O’Carroll, Bureau Commander of Major Crimes and Cyber and Forensics. “Our community should take comfort in knowing that our detectives never stop working these cases.
Anonymous donors through the group DNASolves fund the testing and identification process, authorities said. The testing identified a half-sister, who shared Gildawie's story.
Gildawie, who went by "Choubi," was born in February 1985. She came to the USA from France when she was eight months old, police said. Gildawie moved to the City of Fairfax in the early 1970s. The teen was last seen on Feb. 8, 1975, and was known to be dating an older man before she disappeared. He worked at an upholstery store near the intersection of Church Street and Lawyers Road in Vienna, Virginia. Police say she was typically seen driving a white Cadillac Eldorado with a red interior.
"Advancements in technology have given my Cold Case detectives an opportunity to pursue fresh leads and bring some relief to families that have been long suffering with the unknown,” said Ed O'Carroll.
No further information was released on any charges or possible motive in the Gildawie's death. Detectives continue to investigate this case using new information from the family.
Anyone with relevant information about this case is asked to submit tips to Fairfax County Crime Solvers. Tips can be submitted anonymously through Crime Solvers by phone by dialing 1-866-411-8477.