On Thursday, New York’s Suffolk County Police Department confirmed the remains of Valerie Mack, a 24-year-old Philadelphia mother who went missing two decades ago.
Mack’s partial remains were first discovered near Long Island’s Gilgo Beach in 2000, with additional dismembered remains found in 2011 along Ocean Parkway, according to the Suffolk County police.
An escort at the time of her disappearance, Mack was never reported missing. Police were able to finally identify her remains through genetic genealogy, according to a release from Suffolk County police.
Using samples from her remains, Suffolk County investigators were able to find Mack’s biological relatives through genetic genealogy, which ultimately led to her adoptive family and son, Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said on a press conference call on Thursday.
Hart said that Mack, who also went by the alias Melissa Taylor, was “left without” her biological parents at an early age, but that the department was still uncovering her movements before her death.
They had 20 years of not knowing what happened to their daughter and mother, and we hope this is something that can be used in the future to bring closure to families,” Hart said, referring to genetic tracing.
Suffolk County police are not releasing the identities of any surviving relatives or their legal representation.
Hart credited the FBI, who is also working on the case, with releasing Mack’s DNA to outside labs, which allowed investigators to use genetic samples to track down living relatives.
Two human remains under Suffolk County’s jurisdiction are still unidentified, Hart said on Thursday — a toddler and an adult male of Asian descent. Two other unidentified remains found nearby fall under neighboring law enforcement jurisdictions, she added.
Suffolk County investigators are continuing to try and identify the two bodies under their jurisdiction, though DNA samples are more degraded than those of Mack, Hart said.