Human Remains Found in Southeast DC Neighborhood Are Those of 3 Missing Women

The remains were those of three black women in their 40s who went missing from Southeast and Southwest D.C. in 2006

What to Know

  • Investigators now know the names of the women whose skeletal remains were found in a D.C. neighborhood this spring.
  • The homicide victims were Dorothy Butts, Verdell Jefferson and Jewel King. All were in their 40s and were mothers.
  • Police say they don't know yet who killed the women or whether they could be linked.

D.C. officials and the FBI have identified three women whose remains were found buried this spring in a neighborhood in Southeast D.C.

The remains were those of three black women in their 40s who went missing from Southeast and Southwest D.C. in 2006, Metropolitan Police Department Chief Peter Newsham announced. They each were homicide victims, investigators determined. 

The victims were Dorothy Butts, 43, of Southeast D.C.; Verdell Jefferson, 41, of Southeast D.C.; and Jewel King, 48, of Southwest D.C. 

Butts and Jefferson each had one son. King was survived by three daughters. Their families were notified of the identifications. 

While officials were able to identify the women, what happened to them remains a mystery. No one has been charged in the women's deaths. Investigators are working to discover if there were any links between the women. 

Newsham expressed his condolences to the victims' loved ones. 

"Whenever you have a family member who goes missing, I am sure, regardless of how much time has passed, you are always hopeful that they will return. I am certain that this news is devastating to these families," he said.

Investigators used DNA to identify the three homicide victims. First, forensic pathologists determined that the victims were women from 30 to 45 years old. Then, police gathered missing-persons reports on women in that age range. Then, investigators collected DNA from family members of those missing women. After getting DNA from eight families, they were able to make matches.

Construction crews discovered a human skull near an apartment building in the 100 block of Wayne Place SE on April 25 and called police. Investigators then found human remains in another location nearby. 

Butts and King were determined to have died of gunshot wounds. Jefferson died of blunt force trauma.

The case is under investigation as a homicide. Police are offering a reward of as much as $25,000 per victim for information that leads to an arrest. 

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