TROY — After nearly four decades of anonymity, Marcia Sossoman (King) is at rest beneath a headstone bearing her name.
On Friday evening, many of those who worked to identify the woman who became known as “Jane Doe” or “Buckskin Girl” gathered at Riverside Cemetery in Troy, along with members of Sossoman’s family who traveled here from their home in Arkansas to honor and pray for a young lady who died some 37 years ago.
Due to inclement weather, the service was conducted in the memorial chapel at the cemetery, with guests moving to the gravesite to see, for the first time, a grave bearing her name, and the names of family members who spent years wondering what had happened to their relative. Some of those passed on before learning Sossoman’s fate.
The service was conducted by Miami County Commissioner and FOP Chaplain Greg Simmons, who told those assembled that, “To summarize (the decades of efforts to identify Sossoman), it is the love of our community.”
After 37 years of not knowing what had happened to then-21-year-old Sossoman, stepmother Cindy Sossoman said that they believe it was part of God’s plan that if their daughter was to be killed, she was blessed to have been left in our community, where all concerned treated her as if she was one of their loved ones. “You are all angels in our eyes, ” said Sossoman. ” We love all of you. Thank God for you.”
In the spring of 1981, Sossoman’s body was discovered along Greenlee Road. She was wearing a tan buckskin jacket, which led to her being known as “Buckskin Girl.” The Miami County Sheriff’s Office never closed the investigation into her death, following leads whenever and wherever they turned up.
The scientific assistance that led to the victim’s identification was conducted by the DNA Doe Project, a nonprofit organization created in 2017 by Dr. Colleen Fitzpatrick and Dr. Margaret Press to apply genealogy tools to the identification of unknown persons. The case was one of the first cases accepted for the project, using degraded DNA.
As DNA technology became available, the Miami Valley Regional Crime Lab generated the victim’s nuclear DNA profile in 2001. In 2008, her profile was entered into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs). In 2009, her mitochondrial DNA profile was developed at the NamUs DNA lab, and both genetic profiles of the deceased were entered into the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). In 2010, NamUs case management was assigned to Dr. Elizabeth Murray, a forensic anthropologist and professor of biology at Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati, who has assisted with the investigation since.
Now that Sossoman has been identified, law enforcement officials are hopeful that information will surface that will lead to finding her killer(s) and bringing them to justice.
The investigation into who killed Sossoman continues. “We got closure to the family, hopeful, for one part of it, ” said Miami County Sheriff Dave Duchak. “Our next phase now is picking up a 37-year-old trail and we are working as expeditiously as possible on that. We’ve placed her in the Louisville area and she had some loose affiliations in the northern Shelby County area.”
Duchak continued, “We absolutely need the public’s assistance in this. If you know anything, call us, leave anonymous tips on our website. We need that partnership with the public. The detectives are making progress. We will never give up.”