Police in Virginia identified the remains of a 17-year-old girl who disappeared nearly 50 years ago with the help of DNA testing, a scientific tool that has helped law enforcement solve dozens of cold case murders in recent years.
Patricia Agnes Gildawie, also known as "Choubi," disappeared Feb. 8, 1975, in Fairfax, Virginia, Fairfax County police said in a statement. A construction crew found her remains and some clothing found behind an apartment complex in McLean in September 2001.
At the time, an initial review said the skeletal remains "were like that of an African American female in her late teens to early 20s," the statement says. A medical examiner said the woman died from a gunshot wound to the head.
Cold case detectives worked with Othram, a Texas-based company that specializes in using forensic genealogy to solve cold case murders and disappearances. Through advanced DNA testing, authorities were able to find Gildawie's half-sister, Veronique Duperly.
Authorities also learned that Gildawie was dating an older man when she vanished. Police have not been able to identify him, but they said they know he worked at an upholstery store in Vienna, Virginia.
Duperly told NBC Washington that the last time she saw her sister, she was driving a white Cadillac Eldorado with a red interior that Gildawie’s boyfriend had lent her. Duperly said her sister also had bruises on her.
"Bruises on her upper arms, her shoulders and the back of her legs," Duperly told the station. "I said, 'Well, why are you so black and blue?' She said, 'I fall a lot.' I said, 'No, you don’t.'"
Ed O’Carroll, the Fairfax County police bureau commander of major crimes and cyber and forensics, said in a statement: "Identifying this young woman solves a mystery that has been more than 47 years in the making.
"Our community should take comfort in knowing that our detectives never stop working these cases. Advancements in technology have given my Cold Case detectives an opportunity to pursue fresh leads and bring some relief to families that have been long suffering with the unknown."
Gildawie was born in France and moved to the U.S. when she was 8 months old, police said. In the early 1970s, she moved to Fairfax.
Detectives continue to investigate and asked that anyone with information contact Fairfax County Crime Solvers.
This article was originally published on NBCNews.com