PECOS, Texas (KSNW) – Jolaine Hemmy, a Salina teen who went missing 55 years ago, has been identified as Pecos Jane Doe.
The Pecos, Texas Police Department announced it in a press conference Tuesday afternoon.
Hemmy died after drowning a motel pool in Pecos back in July 1966. She was 17 years old when she went missing. She and another man checked into the Ropers Motel. While the man was in the room asleep, a motel maid found her unresponsive in the pool. She was pulled from the water and taken to Reeves Memorial Hospital where she was pronounced dead. The man awoke during the commotion and took everything in the room, including any possible identification. He checked out and left.
Police reopened the cold case last year and exhumed the body.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reached out to Innovative Forensic, a Virginia-based investigative genetic genealogy firm, to help aid the department in putting the case together.
Last week, Corporal Felix Salcido and Chief Lisa Tarango from the Pecos Police Department traveled to Kansas to deliver the news to the family.
“And talking to the family, last week was like talking to them 50 years ago. The emotion was just as raw and just as solid of their missing family member,” said Chief Lisa Tarango, Pecos Police Department. “Being that it is an open investigation, we learned a lot more from the family. We are still looking to find out the person who was with her that day. What information do they have? What can they provide our community?”
Hemmy’s family says for decades, they never knew where their sister went.
“I know with like mom and dad, of course they’ve always wondered and always thought you know there’s a chance that she could still be alive and then before mom passed away they pretty much said you know we know that something happened to her,” said brother Jerry Hemmy.
“Fifty some years we all wonder exactly what happened. You know and I think most of us figured that she had been hurt or gone,” said brother Paul Hemmy
They said they never thought they’d get answers. The moment the police gave them the news, they said it was shocking.
“The most unbelievable thing is that somebody would really take that much time, energy, money to look, look for somebody,” said Paul Hemmy. “It’s good to know where and how and that she’s not suffering all these years.”
Pecos police say Hemmy’s death remains under investigation.