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Serial killer victim found in Yonkers identified nearly 30 years later

HUDSON COUNTY, N.J. (WPIX) — Meresa Hammonds’ son was a toddler when his mom disappeared from his life nearly 30 years in the past, and he tried to carry out hope she would discover him at some point.

“It was hard growing up, thinking she was out there and not looking for me,” Jason Di Trapani informed WPIX.

What Di Trapani didn’t notice was that his mom was fatally overwhelmed and dismembered on June 27, 1992, her stays thrown right into a Yonkers dumpster behind a pizza restaurant. She was one in every of 5 victims of serial killer Robert Shulman, a Long Island postal employee who used to choose up ladies in Queens.

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“He thought, you know, that she didn’t care for him, she didn’t love him, and that’s why she didn’t look for him or anything,” Detective John Geiss of the Yonkers Police Cold Case Squad stated of the girl’s son, who’s now 35.

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In mid-November, Detective Geiss met Di Trapani and informed him that’s not the best way it was.

“It took a long, long time to identify her,” Detective Geiss stated.

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Until early November, Meresa Hammonds was solely identified in police circles as Yonkers Jane Doe, the homicide victim found in a dumpster behind the I Love New York pizza restaurant on Midland Avenue. Four years after Yonkers Jane Doe was thrown in the trash, some intercourse staff who survived an encounter with Robert Shulman tipped off police that one thing was shady about him. One of them remembered the Hicksville handle the place he rented a room. Several of them talked about his blue Cadillac.

When Shulman was arrested in April 1996, he confessed to the crimes and was sentenced to life in jail. He died 10 years later, in 2006.

And the identification of Yonkers Jane Doe remained a thriller.

In 2014, Detective Geiss determined he needed to commit each useful resource he may to discovering Jane Doe’s identification.

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“Going through the autopsy reports, I knew she had two children,” Geiss stated, “because she had caesarean scars. And I wanted to identify her.”

Geiss requested forensic genealogist and artist Carl Koppelman to do a rendering of what Yonkers Jane Doe  could have appeared like when she was alive. He labored along with her post-mortem footage to provide a picture.

As it turned out, Koppelman “was right on the money,” Detective Geiss stated.

In current years, Geiss took be aware of genetic family tree and its profitable use in a number of, unsolved instances. This method entails placing DNA in public web sites to see if there’s a hyperlink with unknown kin.

Dr. Colleen Fitzpatrick, a genealogist who’s president of Identifinders International and the co-founder of Doe DNA Project, began working with genetic family tree in 2011, attempting to assist in the chilly case homicide investigation of Seattle teen Sarah Yarborough.

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“We had the genealogy of the killer going back to the 1600s, but we didn’t know who he was,” Fitzpatrick stated from her California workplace.

She stated they solved it in 2019, nonetheless.

“The technology has advanced, the databases have gotten bigger,” she stated.

Genetic family tree was additionally famously used in the Golden State Killer case, ensuing in the 2018 arrest of 72-year-old Joseph DeAngelo, a former cop who later confessed to 13 murders and 13 rapes. It’s believed he dedicated many extra crimes.

“The Golden State Killer case opened up the revolution,” Dr. Fitzpatrick stated.

She talked concerning the mistrust of genetic family tree as a regulation enforcement software in its early days.

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“I got hate mail, I was ostracized,” Fitzpatrick stated.  “Now, we’ve gone from that alarm to more of an educated discussion.”

Fitzpatrick’s Identifinders International is now doing work in greater than 50 nations globally.

Back in Yonkers, Detective Geiss stated an FBI group put his Jane Doe’s DNA into family tree databases and obtained outcomes in three weeks.

Those outcomes led him to Meresa Hammonds’ identity and a visit to Michigan, the place he met the victim’s brother and a few of her sisters.

He confirmed the post-mortem photograph to Hammonds’ brother and an image of a butterfly tattoo that was on her again.

“He said, ‘That’s my sister! That’s her,” Detective Geiss recalled.

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The detective’s final step was discovering one of many victim’s sons in the New York space.

He talked to Jason Di Trapani and informed him what had occurred to his mom in 1992.

“He was glad to learn about his  mom,” Detective Geiss stated.

A DNA check confirmed Di Trapani was Meresa Hammonds’ organic son.

Now, he’s even met his mom’s massive household throughout Thanksgiving gatherings.

“He does have family, her family, that want to be part of his life,” Geiss stated.  “Something good came out of something bad.”

Jason Di Trapani has one final process he’d wish to carry out in his mom’s behalf — he desires to get her a gravestone, along with her identify, so she’s not buried as Jane Doe in a Staten Island cemetery.

He’s interesting for donations with a GoFundMe web page referred to as “Yonkers Jane Doe 92.”

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