WCD Attorney announces partnership with Cold Case Bureau, law enforcement to identify victim of 3-decade-old homicide
Westchester County District Attorney, Miriam E. Rocah, has partnered newly-created Cold Case Bureau, Mount Vernon Police Department and the Westchester Department of Laboratories and Research.
The partnership, according to Rocah, is aimed at identifying a woman who was found dead in Mount Vernon over 30 years ago.
According to her, with the use of DNA testing and investigative genealogy, the victim, formerly known as “Jane Doe Mount Vernon” has officially been identified as Veronica Wiederhold.
"On February 14, 1988, at around 11:54 a.m., in the vicinity of 22 Carleton Ave. in Mount Vernon, Wiederhold was found dead and nude on the street by Mount Vernon Police," she said.
“The remarkable work by our Cold Case Bureau and law enforcement partners has granted one family the certainty and ability to mourn for their loved one after 33 years. The main goal of this Bureau is to give closure to families of homicide victims, and we know this is pain that never goes away,” she added.
“I know firsthand that solving crimes is one of the best ways we can try to get closure to victims’ families.”
Wiederhold was last seen by her family in Brooklyn in late 1987 before she was found dead. She currently has family in New York City and out-of-state who has been notified of the Cold Case Bureau’s identification.
The Bureau is led by Assistant District Attorney Laura Murphy, who is assisted by Chief Investigator Daniel McKenna.
Together they oversee the Cold Case Bureau and work collaboratively with other investigators in the District Attorney’s Office, the FBI Task Force, the Westchester County Department of Public Safety and law enforcement from across the county.
“There has been a lot of speculation over the years about the identity of this victim. We now know who she is: Veronica Wiederhold,” Murphy said.
“This is why we continue working on these cases and never give up seeking justice for these victims.”
While the Mount Vernon Police Department has been diligently attempting to utilize new forensic science for several years to determine Wiederhold’s identity, the use of advanced genetic genealogy through the FBI made it possible to begin the process to successfully identify the victim.
When the Westchester Forensic Lab determined it had sufficient DNA from the victim, the FBI’s genetic genealogy unit was able to connect it to possible relatives who had submitted their DNA to a genealogy website. Family members then provided DNA samples to the FBI, which aided in the investigation.
The DNA match positively identified Wiederhold and a final identification was made in April.
“I am proud of the fantastic team that we have assembled in the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office that will join forces with our law enforcement partners across Westchester to address as many cold cases as resources allow,” DA Rocah said.