Families of some women reported missing in the District have submitted DNA samples in an effort to help police identify three sets of skeletal remains discovered this spring on a property in Southeast Washington, according to D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham.
The chief said the genetic samples, along with femur bones from the remains, have been sent to an FBI lab for analysis. Newsham said the remains are at least a year old, but he cautioned that they “could be much older than that, and in all likelihood, they probably are.”
Newsham provided the update to the mysterious case on Thursday night’s “The Daily Drum” show on WHUR-Radio, owned and operated by Howard University.
The medical examiner’s office told police that examiners think the women were between 30 and 60 years old, Newsham said. Two had been shot; one suffered blunt-force trauma. Their deaths have been ruled homicides.
Two of the victims have been determined to be African Americans, the chief said. The race of the third is not known.
The bones were found the last week in April in or around a three-story red-brick apartment building in the 100 block of Wayne Place SE, near Mississippi Avenue in the Congress Heights neighborhood. Contractors renovating the building found the first set April 25 in a basement crawl space. The remains of two other women were later found in a shallow grave behind the property, lying atop one another.
Newsham has said in the past that authorities do not know whether the homicides are related. He said investigators found some “personal items” at the scene, but he would not elaborate. Because of damage to the skulls, police said they do not think facial reconstructions will be possible.
On the radio show Thursday, Newsham said the lead detective has reviewed missing person reports of women from the area around the apartment building. He said investigators are awaiting test results from the FBI to determine whether there is a match to submitted DNA samples.
A spokeswoman for the D.C. medical examiner’s office confirmed that the femur bones had been sent to the FBI but had no other details.
Newsham also said that the detective is reviewing who has lived in and who owned the building. He said residents told detectives that in the past, the building was typically left unsecured, and people used to go in and out without a key.