KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A woman who was found dead in Gatlinburg nearly 50 years ago has been identified, the city officials announced Friday.
The remains from a December 1974 cold case were identified through forensic genealogy testing, finally giving a name to a woman previously known only by her National Missing and Unidentified Persons System case number, #UP1589.
Her name is Charlotte Roberta Henry. She was identified after a DNA sample from her remains was submitted to Othram, Inc.
Othram was contracted by the Gatlinburg Police Department within the last year to continue investigating the identity of Henry’s remains. The release from the City of Gatlinburg said that in Othram Laboratory officials contacted Detective Cindy Meyers in February 2023 with Gatlinburg Police about a possible DNA match for a relative in Arkansas.
Meyers contacted the potential match who said she had a sister who had been missing since August 1974 and submitted a DNA sample. That sample positively identified the remains as Henry, who was last seen by her family at her father’s funeral in April 1974, the spokesman said. According to the release, the family reported receiving a letter from Henry in August 1974 from a Memphis address.
Henry’s cause of death is unknown according to the spokesman.
“I want to commend the Investigative Division of the Gatlinburg Police Department for their determination to solve this case,” Police Chief Randy Brackins said. “A number of detectives in our Investigative Division have worked this case throughout the years to determine the identity of Ms. Henry.”
Henry’s remains were found on December 22, 1974 in an advanced stage of decay in a remote area just east of the Arial Tramway. She was found by a hiker from Georgia, who took a shortcut to their chalet when they found her, according to the release.
Henry’s remains were taken to University of Tennessee Memorial Research Center and Hospital to perform an autopsy after the Sevier County Medical Examiner’s office was contacted.
The FBI, TBI and law enforcement agencies from surrounding states were contacted in January 1975 in an effort to identify the remains, the release says.
Further efforts to identify her were taken in 2007, including using computerized technology to create a composite sketch of Henry. A new dental identification was utilized through NCIC in 2007, but it was not able to identify Henry.