Cold Case Closed: Pennsylvania State Police ID woman killed in 1987 fiery Pa. Turnpike crash

In Aug. 2022, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission agreed to pay for forensic genetic genealogy DNA testing.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023 4:25PM
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PHILADELPHIA -- A woman killed in a fiery crash on the Pennsylvania Turnpike over 35 years ago has been identified, the Pennsylvania State Police said.

The woman has been identified as Linda Jean McClure of Indiana, Pennsylvania.

Along with their findings, state police provided one photo of Linda McClure from a 1975 yearbook, when she was approximately 13 years old.

"There were many obstacles in this case but none that deterred the outcome," said Major Michael Carroll, Commander of PSP Area II. "I commend the troopers who remained dedicated to their duty and ultimately brought closure to this case."

The crash occurred on Oct. 22, 1987, on the Turnpike at mile marker 119.4 eastbound in Stoneycreek Township, Somerset County.

According to state police, McClure, who was 26 at the time, was a passenger in a tractor-trailer that struck the fuel tank of another semi-trailer truck.

The tractor-trailer caught fire.

McClure and the driver of the tractor-trailer were killed.

State police said authorities were able to immediately identify the truck driver as a California man, but the woman's name remained a mystery despite multiple attempts to identify her.

Then in Aug. 2022, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission agreed to pay for forensic genetic genealogy DNA testing.

"Once funding for the testing was secured, the Pennsylvania State Police teamed up with Othram to help establish an identity for the unknown woman or to at least identify a nearest living relative," state police said in a press release issued Tuesday.

"Forensic evidence was sent to Othram's lab in The Woodlands, Texas, where forensic scientists used Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing to produce a genealogical profile for the unknown female. Othram's genealogy team then produced investigative leads from this profile."

Through their investigation, Pennsylvania State Police determined the woman was McClure.

Police contacted her family. They told investigators they last communicated with McClure in the late 1980s.

McClure was never reported missing to law enforcement, according to state police.

State police said McClure's brother submitted a DNA sample for comparison and it confirmed she was the victim of the 1987 crash.

"The Pennsylvania Turnpike is pleased we were able to support the State Police on this cold case," said Pennsylvania Turnpike CEO Mark Compton. "We hope that this revelation provides long overdue comfort to Ms. McClure's family."