Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Probable ID for Body Found Last Year; Nassau: But Making It Definite Proves Elusive

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Probable ID for Body Found Last Year; Nassau: But Making It Definite Proves Elusive

Article excerpt

Byline: Derek L. Kinner, Nassau Neighbors editor

A little more than a year after a hunter found a body in a wooded area in Yulee, investigators still have little evidence to work with in the case.

They also don't have a positive identification of the woman, whose remains were mostly decomposed. But they do think it's a homicide.

Lt. Tommy Reeves of the Nassau County Sheriff's Office has been working the case since the body was found on Nov. 29, 2001.

He's pretty sure he knows who the woman is, but two DNA analyses by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement have failed to result in a positive identification, Reeves said.

Reeves said there are several reasons officials think the body is Donna Evelyn Wideman, who was 35 when she left the Jacksonville home she shared with her boyfriend on Sept. 24, 2001, and hasn't been seen since. The boyfriend reported her missing Oct. 5, but said she had a history of disappearing.

The boyfriend, Leonard Thomas Sumner, told Jacksonville police Wideman was a prostitute and used drugs.

After the hunter found the body, investigators tried to match it to Wideman. But the woman hadn't had any recent dental work so that they could match teeth, and the body was so badly decomposed that investigators couldn't get a set of fingerprints.

However, one part of her skin that was intact had a distinctive tattoo. Reeves said he showed a photo of the tattoo to several of Wideman's friends and they said it was hers. The body also had jewelry on it, and friends said that was Wideman's as well.

"We had a tentative identification, but that's not good enough," Reeves said. "But we were working under the assumption that it was Donna Wideman. We were working on it as a homicide."

Reeves then contacted Wideman's sister and learned the woman had a son in Nassau County. Officers got a DNA sample from the son and sent it to the FDLE.

The FDLE technician "told me the boy's swab pretty well matched. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.