A family finally has some answers about what happened to a 17-year-old girl who went missing from Northern Virginia nearly 50 years ago.
Patricia Agnes Gildawie, also known as Choubi, was last seen on Feb. 8, 1975. Human remains found in McLean in 2001 have now been identified as hers, Fairfax County police said Monday.
“Identifying this young woman solves a mystery that has been more than 47 years in the making,” Ed O’Carroll, bureau commander of Major Crimes and Cyber and Forensics, said in a statement. “Our community should take comfort in knowing that our detectives never stop working these cases.”
A construction crew working in the 5100 block of Lincoln Circle in McLean found human remains and clothing on Sept. 27, 2001, near a drainage ditch. An initial review found the remains were those of a woman who died from a gunshot wound to the head, police said. A report at the time said the woman was likely African American and in her late teens to early 20s.
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Cold case detectives worked earlier this year with Othram Inc., which provides DNA testing and forensic-grade genome sequencing.
Veronique Duperly described the moment last month when Fairfax County detectives told her the company’s testing had linked her Ancestry.com results to Gildawie, her half-sister.
"When I gave them my DNA, they sent it to the lab while they were sitting here in my living room, and they had an 100% DNA match within 15 minutes," she said.
1975 came flooding back. Duperly said Gildawie was dating an older man at the time, who loaned her a white Cadillac Eldorado with red interior that she was driving the last time Duperly saw her. It was also the day Duperly noticed the bruises on her sister.
"Bruises on her upper arms, her shoulders, and the back of her legs," Duperly said. "I said, 'Well, why are you so black and blue?' She said, 'I fall a lot.' I said, 'No, you don't.'"
Police are anxious to talk to her boyfriend, but they don’t know his name - only that he was in his 30s at the time of Gildawie's death and worked at a now-closed upholstery store near Church Street and Lawyer’s Road in Vienna.
"We're moving fast and furious on this case. We know the killer is still out there," O'Carroll said.
Anonymous donors through the group DNASolves funded the testing and identification process, police said.
No information was released on any charges in Gildawie’s death. Police continue to investigate, using new information from the family.
Anyone with potentially relevant information is asked to contact police.