2019 News Release

December 12, 2019

Public Information Bureau (609) 882-2000
Major Brian Polite - ext. 6514
Lt. Theodore Schafer - ext. 6515
SFC Jeff Flynn - ext. 6516
Sgt. Lawrence Peele - ext. 6531
Tpr. Alejandro Goez - ext. 6527
Tpr. Charles Marchan - ext. 6513

State Police Assist San Francisco Police Department with Identifying Remains of Child in 43-Year-Old Homicide Cold Case

Southampton, N.J. - The New Jersey State Police Missing Persons Unit assisted the San Francisco Police Department, CA with positively identifying Judy Gifford, 14, as the victim in a 43-year-old homicide cold-case investigation.

On October 1, 1976, a man walking his dog discovered a hand protruding from the sand behind a pumping station in Lake Merced, San Francisco, CA.  Detectives later determined that the victim was a young, Asian female whose remains were found with distinctive jewelry, including a gold chain and owl pendant necklace, which were found in her pocket.  Her death was ruled a homicide, and for 43 years her remains were unidentified.

William Shin, Judy’s half-brother, remembered having a sister when he was a child.  After investigating on his own and consulting with his family, he formally reported Judy Gifford missing to the San Francisco Police Department. He told investigators that his sister went missing when she was 14 years old, and his family had not seen or heard from her since 1976. As a result of the subsequent investigation by San Francisco Police Department, officers developed information that linked the remains discovered in the 1976 homicide to Judy Gifford.

During the investigation, members of the San Francisco Police Department discovered that Judy had a paternal aunt, Ogee Gifford, living in Southampton, N.J. On June 13, 2019, New Jersey State Police Missing Persons Unit Detective Sergeant Erin Micciulla and Detective Jeff Greco were contacted by the San Francisco Police Department to assist with the investigation.

On June 18, 2019, detectives met with Ms. Gifford to conduct an interview, obtain a DNA sample by buccal swab, and gather photographs and dental records.  As a result, detectives obtained photographs that showed Judy wearing a gold chain with an owl pendant necklace, which matched the jewelry found on the victim in 1976.

On November 14, 2019, the California Department of Justice announced that Judy Gifford was positively identified as the female victim through DNA and photographs.  On November 22, 2019, Detective Sergeant Micciulla and Detective Greco returned to Ms. Gifford’s residence to personally notify her of the positive identification.  Although the case remains an active investigation led by the San Francisco Police Department, Ms. Gifford, who has never changed her phone number in case her niece ever called, was brought some closure as a result of the joint effort.


Photo of Judy Gifford

Judy Gifford

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