The remains of a Texas woman found on a farm 34 years ago have been identified
BACCA COUNTY, CO (KDVR) – The remains of a woman found on a Colorado farm have been identified in a chilling case spanning 34 years.
The investigation began in June 1988 when a farmer reported to the Baca County Sheriff’s Office that he had found what he believed to be human remains on his property southwest of the town of Springfield.
Sheriff’s office deputies and the Baca County medical examiner estimated the remains — now identified as those of Nora Elia Castillo — had been there for one to three years.
After days of searching the area at the time, the sheriff’s office said officials found nothing to identify the remains or determine why the man died or how they ended up in the farmer’s field.
Investigators said they have taken several steps to identify the woman’s remains over the past 34 years.
- Dental impressions were taken and the dental records were turned over to the National Crime Center
- DNA samples were taken and submitted for analysis
- An anthropological survey was completed to try to find something to identify the remains
- A facial reconstruction was completed to try and get an idea of what the person might have looked like
Investigators said there were many possible matches with the dental records, but after matching, they were all ruled out.
The case goes cold
The case was eventually dropped and the remains were named “Jane Doe” and later buried. Investigators said they buried copies of important information about the case with the remains in hopes of someday being able to identify the body.
The sheriff’s office said Colorado Bureau of Investigation contacted in May 2021 and asked if they could produce the evidence from the 1988 Jane Does case. national system for missing and unidentified persons which started in 2007.
A few months later, in July, the Baca County Coroner’s Office contracted with Solved by DNA, a genetic genealogy research company, to try to identify “Jane Doe.”
Jane Doe’s DNA records were found, but they were not adequate to do a family study because of what the sheriff’s office said were limitations in technology at the time the remains were located.
On December 13, 2021, the sheriff’s office and medical examiner exhumed Jane Doe’s remains so they could obtain new samples for DNA testing.
The DNA samples have been sent to the CBI for analysis. After the analysis, the DNA profile is entered into national system for missing and unidentified persons.
DNA match found
In August 2022, the sheriff’s office and medical examiner were notified of a possible familial DNA match to “Jane Doe.”
Researchers from Solved by DNA said they were able to find a person with DNA markers that indicate he is a member of the “Jane Doe” family.
The sheriff’s office said it also contacted several possible family members of the match and helped them contact Solved by DNA.
The possible match was then asked to provide an additional DNA sample to determine if “Jane Doe” was related to them.
On September 26, 2022, the National System for Missing and Unidentified Persons notified the sheriff’s office that the probable familial DNA of “Jane Doe” had been found.
On October 6, 2022, Baca County agencies were notified that DNA from “Jane Doe” matched an individual who submitted their DNA to the McAllen, Texas Police Department.
The DNA sample from the McAllen Police Department was provided in 2004 by a person searching for her missing mother, Nora Elia Castillo.
Castillo’s daughter filed a missing person’s case against her mother in 1996, even though her mother had been missing since 1986 or 1987, the sheriff’s office said.
Castillo’s family was located and notified that she had been found in Baca County, Colorado.
“Many thanks to all agencies that assisted in identifying Nora Elia Castillo! The Baca County Sheriff’s Office, Baca County Medical Examiner’s Office, Michele Kennedy with Solved by DNA, Colorado Bureau of Investigation, McAllen Texas Police Department, NamUs and the University of North Texas all worked closely in the investigation and resolution on that part of the case,” the sheriff’s office said.
Although the remains have been identified, Castillo’s case remains unsolved. The sheriff’s office said it is now being investigated as a potential homicide.
If you have any information about Castillo or this case, please contact the Baca County Sheriff’s Office at 719-523-4511 or the McAllen Texas Police Department at 956-681-2221.
There are hundreds unsolved murder casescases of long-term missing persons and unidentified remains cases in Colorado where at least three years have passed since the crime was committed. The Colorado Cold Case Task Force created a list of these cases dating back to 1970.
The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System shows there are currently 21,556 open missing persons cases in the United States and more than 300 in Colorado.