Police near Galveston, Texas, on Monday identified two women found dead decades ago using DNA technology to make important strides in a pair of cold cases.
One set of remains was identified as Audrey Lee Cook, who was born Nov. 25, 1955, in Memphis, Tennessee. Her remains were found in 1986.
The other woman is Donna Prudhomme, who was born in Port Arthur, Texas, on April 23, 1957. Her remains were found in 1991.
League City police in Galveston County identified the women at a press conference on Monday and implored media outlets to publicize their names and other details so they can build leads in the cases.
“We want to complete the investigation,” League City Police Lt. Michael Buffington said. “We want to try and jog as many people as possible.”
Calder Road killings
Cook and Prudhomme are among four women found dead in the 1980s and 1990s in fields on or near Calder Road, located off of Interstate 45 in League City, CNN affiliate KLTV reported.
All four of those deaths are cold cases.
The two other women were identified through dental records: Heidi Fye, whose remains were found in 1984, and Laura Miller, whose remains were found in 1986.
The TV station says “thirty bodies have been found in the infamous ‘killing field’ over the years, beginning in the 1970s. Some cases have been solved and linked to serial killers.”
Law enforcement has talked to people who knew Cook and Prudhomme and provided insights about them. The only connection investigators have been able to make among the women is the location where they were discovered.
“Over the years, there have been several attempts to produce an accurate representation of what the victims looked like at the time of their death to assist with identifying Jane Doe and Janet Doe,” police said in a statement.
Investigators used Parabon NanoLabs, a DNA technology company in Virginia, “to predict the physical appearance and ancestry” of these women using a new method of forensic DNA analysis called DNA phenotyping.
Using the genetic genealogy of Jane Doe and Janet Doe, investigators arduously constructed family trees and profiles and compared them against a Family Tree DNA database. With those matches, they identified and found family members of the two.
“Detectives were able to identify and locate living family members from both victims. DNA samples were collected from the son and sister of Janet Doe, and Agents from the FBI coordinated the collection from the family members of Jane Doe who were out of state,” police said.
In a video about the case, Buffington urged people whose loved ones are missing to submit DNA to databases. He said using DNA to locate people is an “emerging tool” for law enforcement.
Who were the victims?
Cook resided in Channelview and Houston from 1976 to 1985, investigators said.
She worked as a mechanic for a golf cart company in Houston in 1979 and for National Rent-A-Car “at some point.”
Cook worked for Harrison Equipment company in Houston in 1980 and was employed by Balloon Affair in Houston the next year
December 1985 was the last time the family had contact with her.
“Associates report she possibly sold and used cocaine,” League City Police said.
Prudhomme resided in the Beaumont and Port Arthur areas between 1982 and 1985. She moved to Austin in 1986 and then to the Seabrook area in 1988, She lived in Nassau Bay in 1991 and was last been seen that year.
“We have no information about her employment,” police said. “It is believed that she was a frequent patron of several of the local bars around Nasa Road 1 in Seabrook, Texas.”
League City Police say anybody with information about Audrey Cook or Donna Prudhomme should contact the police department’s Cold Case tip line at 281-338-8220.
Buffington said both families were elated about the discoveries but are grieving of the deaths of their kin.
“It was a very emotional roller-coaster for them,” Buffington said.