Thanks to our modern society full of new and advanced technology, a lot of things in our lives have become easier. If we wanted to find a person today it would be a million times less challenging than it would have been forty years ago.
This is very useful to solve cases or for adopted people who want to find their biological family. Sometimes you can found things you rather didn’t know before, and other times you will get some precious information.
That is exactly what happened with Christine Marie Salley, from Virginia, who wanted to know her biological mother and used an online DNA service in 2018, but she found some things that she wasn’t expecting at all.
Salley knew her whole life that she was adopted, and when she felt it was the right time, she decided to search for her real parents, but after having no success, she ended up hiring a private investigator, who found some information about her adoption papers, where it stated that the name of her mother was Pamela Dianne Duffey, but there wasn’t any trail from her.
It didn’t take long until a sample of Christine’s DNA was sent to GEDmatch, a public database which purpose is to help people to find their lost or long relatives. Soon enough, she was noticed that there was a match with a victim of an unsolved murder in Ludlow, California from the early 80s.
Back in November 1980, an archeologist found a grave with two naked bodies. A woman and a man were beaten and then killed with a gunshot, and left with any way to identify their names. As there were no clues about the victims, the police called it an unsolved case and forgot about it.
But, forty years later, the San Bernardino County found out about Christine’s match and contacted her to give another sample to the California Department of Justice, who quickly confirmed that the female victim was in fact, 21-year-old Pamela Duffey. Although they still didn’t know who the male was, Salley had a hunch of who could be.
In her previous research, she had found out that her mother maintained a relationship with a man who was serving time in a Virginia prison, and both of them were planning to travel across the country after he was released. The police tried to found this man, but they only knew his nickname, “Digger Lane”, so they had to do several investigations to get him.
After seeing the record of the prison, they found that he was William Everette Lane, and this led them to an address. However, they only could reach out to his mother, who provided them a DNA sample that helped to corroborate that he had been murdered at 20 years old, while he was with Duffey.
Now they had the identities of both victims, but there wasn’t a clue about who could have done this, so it was time to see the old criminals from Ludlow, and Howard Neal came to the picture.
Apparently, Neal was constantly on the run and on the radar of Ludlow’s police department for many years and was a suspect when the investigation was still open. He had been living there during the time of the homicide, but he moved to Mississippi where he was sentenced to death for killing his brother, raping and murdering his 13-year-old niece and a friend of hers in 1982. But he was still in a Mississippi prison because his condemnation was changed to three life sentences.
The police noticed this connection and went to investigate him and he spilled all the truth about the crime he managed to get away with. He told the investigators that he saw a couple of “hippies” while they were hiking and thought it was a good idea to invite them to his place, where the three of them had very heated, intense, and violent arguments, which explains the bruises the corpses had.
Neal, now a 68-year-old, justified that he had to kill Lane because he thought that if he didn’t do it first, he would kill him instead, so he shot him. He then proceeded to sexually assault Duffey, to finally kill her, also shooting her. Next, he drove far away from his property into an isolated desert area, buried both bodies, and despoiled them from their clothes and personal belongings. Despite his confession, Howard Neal wasn’t charged for the murders of Pamela Duffey and William Lane.
Unfortunately for Christine Salley she never got to meet her mother, but at least now she knows what happened to her, and helped to finally solve this mystery case. Thanks to modern technologies, a lot of unsolved murders or disappearing cases from the past few decades are in similar situations, which helps people to finally give closure for those horrible and uncertain times of their lives.