YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Investigators with the Youngstown Police Department and the Mahoning County Coroner’s Office believe they may know the identity of a woman whose unidentified remains were found in 1995.
After a Feb. 24 story on WKBN First News and wkbn.com said authorities were looking to find the identity of a woman who was found in an Otis Street apartment, Detective Sgt. Dave Sweeney, who handles missing persons’ cases for the department, said he and Investigator Theresa Gaetano with the coroner’s office began receiving calls from people saying the woman was America F. Williams, who was about 30 when she went missing.
Williams, who was from the Ravenna and Kent areas, had family in Youngstown, Gaetano said. She was reported missing in September of 1996 by her mother, almost a year after the body was found on Otis Street, Sweeney said.
Williams’ car was also found somewhere on the North Side in 1996, Gaetano said.
“We believe we have a very good lead,” Gaetano said.
Investigators did not have much to work on so they went to the public for help.
The body was found Oct. 31, 1995, by maintenance personnel with the Youngstown Metropolitan Housing Authority. It was the body of a white woman, about 5’2″ and 110 pounds, which was badly decomposed.
Investigators can use a dental chart of the victim’s teeth to identify her, but her body was too badly decomposed to get a DNA sample. Sweeney did take a DNA sample from a family member in case technology improves in the future, but Gaetano said what she is looking for now is someone who may have access to Williams’ dental records.
The woman was wearing Levi’s five-pocket jeans, with a 28-inch waist and 32-inch inseam. She had on a blue, short-sleeved shirt that had the words, “Golden Age Games, Sanford, Florida,” on the front in yellow letters on the front. She also had on white and black Nike Air Jordan high-top shoes, size 8 and white tube socks with green stripes, and a black button-up sweater with a blue and gray striped swirl design.
The apartment she was found in was in “disarray,” according to reports. There was drug paraphernalia near the body. Sweeney said it is not believed the person who was found in the apartment died because of foul play.
A cause of death could not be determined because of the decomposition of the body.
One thing Sweeney is looking for is anyone who may have a photo of Williams with the clothes that were on the body when it was found.
Anyone with information on the case can call Sweeney at 330-742-8911 or Gaetano at 330-740-2175, ext. 7310.
Sweeney and Gaetano are also looking to identify the body of a man that was recovered June 29, 1980, from the Mahoning River, but they have had no leads in that case.
The man is described as a 5’8″ white male, 50 to 55 years old, with brown hair and brown eyes. A death certificate listed drowning as the cause of death, but an autopsy was never performed.
The date the man drowned could not be determined, but it is not believed he was in the river very long, newspaper accounts at the time said.
Authorities couldn’t use fingerprints to identify the man because they were not usable, Gaetano said.
This story is part of a series of cold cases that WKBN is examining.