Patricia Newsom: DNA Unlocks Answers in a Decades-Old Murder Case

In August 1975, law enforcement discovered the body of an unidentified woman. Despite numerous efforts to establish her identity and connect with individuals who might have known her, the case remained unresolved for several decades. It wasn’t until 2023 that the woman was finally identified as Patricia Newsom. She had a surviving sister who had been diligently searching for her, and learning the fate of her long-lost sibling brought a sense of closure and peace. The Crime Junkie podcast’s ‘Murdered: Patricia Newsom’ delves into the intricacies of this case, exploring the reasons behind the prolonged mystery and the eventual breakthrough in solving it.

How Did Patricia Newsom Die?

Patricia Newsom was born on June 20, 1957, to Herbert Donald Newsom and Elizabeth Ann Clinton Newsom. She was one of four siblings, the second eldest and the eldest daughter in the family. She had a vibrant and playful personality, with a deep love for singing and dancing, reflecting her indomitable spirit. Tragedy struck the family in 1968 when Patricia’s mother passed away, leaving her at just 11-years-old. In the aftermath, the siblings experienced a period of separation. Within a year, their father, Herbert, married 20-year-old Mary Ann Wigmore, and they took the family to Morganville, New Jersey. It is alleged that Patricia had a strained relationship with her stepmother.

For reasons that remain unknown, Patricia was sent to a Catholic school around 1973. On the morning of August 16, 1975, a truck driver in East Haven, Connecticut, was routinely driving around and saw a cylindrical object in the drainage ditch. Instinctively knowing it was a human body, he called the police, and they found that the tarp was tied with a cable wire. Once the tarp was removed, the naked body of a woman without any identification was found inside it. Her hands and legs were tied and a towel and a trash bag covered her head. Her mouth was gagged with a piece of cloth and the coroner determined that the cause of the death was asphyxiation due to smothering.

After determining her death as a homicide, the police started investigating the identity of the woman but did not get many leads. By 1977, Herbert and Mary Ann had separated and Mary Ann took custody of Patricia’s younger siblings, Peter and Maryann, and relocated to Ocean City. Unfortunately, Maryann was not allowed to discuss Patricia or her biological mother’s family because Mary Ann did not like it. It appeared as though Patricia had been largely forgotten, with few inquiries about her whereabouts, except by her younger sister, Maryann. Meanwhile, the police’s quest for locating the young woman yielded no results; they laid her to rest in an unmarked grave at the State Street Church in New Haven.

Who Killed Patricia Newsom?

In 1994, the New Haven police reopened the case and found that a trans woman named Samantha Glenner had been charged with the murder of Amelia “Amy” Cave in Hancock, Maine. The circumstances surrounding how Amy’s body was discovered closely resembled the case from 1975 in New Haven. Further investigation revealed that Glenner had been residing in New Haven at the time of the 1975 murder. However, during their interview with Glenner, who was incarcerated, they couldn’t establish Glenner’s involvement in the case.

In 2020, East Haven police officers decided to reopen a cold case from 1975 because they believed that advancements in genetic genealogy could help identify the woman involved. Their plan involved exhuming the woman’s body from a state cemetery. However, due to many years passing and records becoming disorganized, the task of locating her body was challenging. Nevertheless, the police were determined to proceed. Finally, in July 2022, they successfully located the body in a metal casket.

In the meantime, Maryann Newsom was using the internet to search for her sister, whose whereabouts were unknown to her. She created a Facebook group and a NamUs profile and also submitted her DNA to GEDMatch as part of her efforts to find her missing sibling. The police swiftly matched the DNA from the 1975 New Haven case to Patricia Newsom. On April 10, 2023, they contacted Maryann, her 58-year-old sister living in northeast Tennessee, and told her that the sister she had been looking for was the woman in the 1975 cold case.

Shortly after this, Patricia’s identity was publicly revealed in a press conference. However, there hasn’t been significant progress in uncovering the events leading to Patricia’s death. It is known that she left her boarding school with a friend in either 1973 or 1974 and hitchhiked to Maine, but it remains unclear if she ever reached Maine or how she ended up in New Haven. Notably, Patricia was never reported missing by her stepmother or father. Maryann is sharing Patricia’s story in the hope that more information will surface. As of July 2023, Maryann was waiting for the final exhumation of Patricia’s body from the State Street Cemetery in Hamden, New Haven, with plans to lay her to rest beside their mother’s grave.

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