45 Years Ago, Remains of Unknown Woman Were Found in a Garment Bag—Today We Know Her Identity

By: Lydia Iseh | Last updated: Oct 12, 2023

For more than four decades, the identity of a lady discovered in a neglected clothing bag remained a mystery. Today, after relentless investigation, her true name and story have finally come to light.

Join us on a captivating trip as we learn the incredible tale of her discovery, the tireless efforts to reveal her identity, and the breakthroughs that have finally given her a name and a voice after all these years.

A Chilling Discovery in a Sleepy Town

In 1978, a mystery unfolded in the secluded town of Imlay, Nevada. A garment bag, hidden away in a remote area, revealed the heavily decayed remains of an unidentified woman.


Source: Getty Images

Officers from the Pershing County Sheriff’s Office discovered a few pieces of women’s clothing scattered with her tragic remains. The discovery sent shockwaves through the neighborhood, leaving investigators with many questions.


The Corpse Revealed to Be a Middle-Aged Woman

Following an autopsy, authorities established that the rotting remains belonged to a middle-aged lady. However, the precise cause of her death was unknown. The case was placed into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System in an attempt to solve the mystery.


Source: Getty Images

Detectives also uncovered more information about the woman based on available evidence, in the hopes of generating leads and assisting with her identification.

Important Clues Are Uncovered

Based on the information available, investigators assumed the woman stood around five-foot-five tall and had red or auburn hair.


Source: Pinterest

They also suspected she was left-handed. Clothing discovered with her bones included a dark-green pullover with a white safety pin on the front, dark-green trousers, and a long-sleeved pink sweater. These details formed crucial clues, providing prospective leads for identifying the woman and piecing together the events behind her tragic demise.

No Evidence, No Progress

In spring 1979, the investigation into the unidentified woman’s case escalated with the involvement of Nevada State Police detectives.


Source: nvstatepolice/Instagram

They employed advanced techniques such as digital facial reconstruction, meticulously compared dental records to those of missing persons and unsolved cases, and scoured the articles of clothing found with the remains for any potential clues. Despite their best efforts, the case eventually came to a halt, and grew cold over time.

Eventually a Stroke of Luck

Last March, authorities collaborated with Othram Inc., a renowned private laboratory specializing in forensic genealogy analysis, resulting in a significant breakthrough. With their expertise, they successfully extracted DNA from the remains, enabling the development of a comprehensive DNA profile for the unidentified woman.

Source: Flickr

This crucial advancement led investigators to two of the woman’s nieces, living in Ohio. After 45 years of anonymity, the case finally trended towards resolution.


Finally Cracking the Case

In a long-awaited revelation, the Nevada State Police recently confirmed a breakthrough in DNA testing that has resulted in the identification of the nameless woman.

Source: Reddit

Her true identity is Florence Charleston—a woman in her late 60s originally from Cleveland, Ohio, who relocated to Portland, Oregon, shortly before her passing.


Introducing Diane Liggitt…

Diane Liggitt, one of the few surviving relatives of Charleston, shared her personal connection to the case.

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Liggitt revealed that when she was around 18 years old, her father informed her that her aunt had departed for the Pacific Northwest during the early 1970s with a new romantic partner. However, the family lost touch with Charleston over the years, and her whereabouts became a mystery.


The Power Of DNA Remains Unrivaled

Liggitt received life-changing news in April. Just as she was about to leave her house, her phone rang from an unfamiliar out-of-state number. Despite not knowing who was calling, she answered the phone.

Source: Getty Images

Little did she know that this pivotal moment would lead to a significant breakthrough. Shortly after that phone call, Othram was able to link Charleston to the previously unidentified remains with the help of a DNA sample provided by Liggitt’s relative.


Final Thoughts…

In an interview with Associated Press, Liggitt reflected on her thoughts and emotions about her aunt, whom she affectionately referred to as “Dolly” due to a childhood name.

Source: iStock

Liggitt confessed she worried about Dolly’s happiness and safety on a regular basis. As she approaches the age her aunt was at the time of her death, Liggitt wishes to learn the truth about her aunt’s death and find solace in understanding what happened.