DNA helps Las Vegas police identify mother found dead in shallow grave

DNA helps Las Vegas police identify mother found dead in shallow grave

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‘Jane Tropicana Doe’ identified as Linda Sue Anderson

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Las Vegas Metro police have identified a woman found dead in a shallow grave as a mother who was last seen alive in the 1990s, the 8 News Now Investigators have learned.

Linda Sue Anderson, who was about 38 at the time of her death, was known only as “Jane Tropicana Doe” for 30 years. Anderson, a mother of three children, who lived in Las Vegas and Henderson and had ties to Bakersfield, California, also used the last name Andrews.

Linda Sue Anderson, who was about 38 at the time of her death, was known only as “Jane Tropicana Doe” for 30 years. Anderson, who lived in Las Vegas and Henderson and had ties to Bakersfield, California, also used the last name Andrews. (LVMPD/KLAS)

In April 1993, scientists working in a then-desert area near Tropicana Avenue and Durango Drive in the southwest valley discovered the grave, which was covered with a quilt and rocks, while canvassing the area for tortoises, police said.

Homicide detectives then found a woman’s skeletal remains inside, LVMPD Cold Case Investigator Terri Miller said Tuesday. In 1993, the Clark County coroner determined the woman, now identified as Anderson, likely died in mid-to-late 1991 from multiple gunshot wounds, Miller said.

Anderson was never reported missing, Miller said. Anderson’s children told Miller their mother suffered from mental illness, and they believed she walked out on them, the cold case investigator said Tuesday.

“They feel a tremendous amount of guilt because they felt that their mom had abandoned them,” Miller said Tuesday after Anderson’s children. “She was a good mom when she was doing well. They had wonderful memories with her. But when she was doing badly, it was more like the children were taking care of their mother.”

Texas-based Othram Labs, which works with Metro to identify victims in similar cold case homicides, informed police about the match late last year, Miller said. In addition to Othram, the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) and the FBI aided in the identification.

In April 1993, scientists working in a then-desert area near Tropicana Avenue and Durango Drive in the southwest valley discovered the grave, which was covered with a quilt and rocks, while canvassing this area for tortoises, police said. (LVMPD/KLAS)

Metro sent Anderson’s remains to Othram in early 2023, Miller said. The company identified Anderson through forensic genetic genealogy.

“Why do you think she was never reported missing?” 8 News Now Investigator David Charns asked Miller.

“When they reached out to their stepdad to say, ‘Where’s mom?’ he stated that he came home one day and she had left,” Miller said. “And it was a plausible story for them based on their history with their mom.”

Last month, with the help of Othram, Metro identified Gwenn Marie Story, 19, of Colerain Township, Ohio, the 8 News Now Investigators first reported. Story was murdered near the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and Sahara Avenue on Aug. 14, 1979, police said. A man discovered her remains on the site of the demolished El Rancho hotel, though the nearby intersection gave her the moniker “Sahara Sue Doe.”

In April 1993, scientists working in a then-desert area near Tropicana Avenue and Durango Drive in the southwest valley discovered the grave, which was covered with a quilt and rocks, while canvassing this area for tortoises, police said. (LVMPD/KLAS)

Both women’s cases remained unsolved as of Tuesday with the hopes their identification would lead to more information about who killed them.

Miller cited LVMPD Sheriff Kevin McMahill’s staffing of a cold case unit to identify victims with DNA.

Tips can be submitted anonymously through Crime Stoppers by calling 702-385-5555 or at crimestoppersofnv.com/report-a-crime. Information can also be sent via text by sending “CRIMENV” and then your message to “CRIMES” (274637).

Crime Stoppers offers a reward for information that leads to an arrest.



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