The Washoe County Regional Medical Examiner’s Office in Nevada has identified the remains of a woman found buried under rocks in 1997, marking a significant breakthrough in a cold case that had remained unsolved for over two decades. The deceased has been identified as Lorena Gayle Mosley, also known as Lorena Gayle Sherwood, who was 41 years old at the time of her death.
Mosley’s body was discovered by rock climbers in rural Washoe County in June 1997. Due to severe decomposition, the cause of death could not be established, but officials classified it as a homicide based on the circumstances of the discovery. Initial investigations could not determine even basic details like her hair or eye color. Despite a forensic reconstruction and details entered into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, the case saw no significant leads for years.
In a collaborative effort with Othram, Inc., a company specializing in forensic genetic genealogy, the medical examiner’s office submitted forensic evidence for genome sequencing in 2023. Othram developed a comprehensive DNA profile from the DNA extract, which led to investigative leads through a genetic genealogy search. The medical examiner’s office, with FBI assistance, then matched old paper fingerprint records to those taken post-mortem, confirming Mosley’s identity.
Chief Medical Examiner and Coroner Laura D. Knight expressed deep gratification in giving Mosley the dignity of being laid to rest with her name, acknowledging the role of new technology, innovation, and donor generosity in solving the case. The investigation’s costs were covered by contributions to Othram and the medical examiner’s office.
With Mosley’s next of kin notified and now able to claim her remains, this development provides closure to her family and opens a new chapter in the investigation. The sheriff’s office continues to investigate the circumstances surrounding Mosley’s death, seeking answers to this long-standing mystery.