Remains of teen murdered in 1976 identified as missing 14-year-old by California investigators
Judy Gifford’s body was found by a man walking his dog in San Francisco.
December 15, 2019, 6:57 PM
5 min read
California police have positively identified the remains of a teen who was found murdered 43 years ago as a 14-year-old missing girl.
The body was discovered by a man walking his dog in the Lake Merced neighborhood of San Francisco on Oct. 1, 1976, after the man saw the girl’s hand protruding from the sand, according to a news release by the New Jersey State Police.
Investigators could only determine that the victim was a young Asian female who had a gold chain and owl pendant necklace in her pocket, but she was not identified as Judy Gifford until recent weeks, police said.
Gifford’s half-brother, William Shin, formally reported her missing to the San Francisco Police Department in 2017, telling them that he and his family had not seen or heard from her since she was 14 years old. As a result, police linked Gifford to the homicide investigation. Shin had remembered having a sister when he was a child and decided to investigate on his own, consulting family before he made the report, police said.
Gifford had moved to San Francisco in the summer of 1976 to live with her father, his wife and her two half-siblings. Shin was 6 at the time, and his sister was much younger, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
After learning that Gifford’s paternal aunt lived in Southampton, New Jersey, the San Francisco Police Department enlisted the assistance of the New Jersey State Police Missing Persons Unit Detective.
In June, New Jersey authorities met with Gifford’s aunt, Ogee Gifford, to obtain a DNA sample and gather photographs and dental records. One of the photographs showed Gifford wearing the necklace that was found with her remains, police said.
Ogee Gifford did not change her phone number for more than four decades in case her niece ever called, police said.
The California Department of Justice announced that the remains were positively identified as Gifford through DNA and photographs last month.
San Francisco Police are now trying to determine who killed her, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.