WASHINGTON - Authorities have identified the remains of three women who were discovered in a shallow grave and crawl space in the District back in April.
The skeletal remains were discovered by construction workers at an apartment building on Wayne Place in Southeast D.C. on April 25.
Officials identified the victims as 48-year-old Jewel King of Southwest D.C., who was reported missing on April 13, 2006, 41-year-old Verdell Jefferson, who was reported missing on Aug. 1, 2006, and 43-year-old Dorothy Butts, who was reported missing on Christmas Day in 2006.
D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said all three victims were mothers and their deaths have been ruled homicides. King and Butts were shot while Jefferson, who lived on the same block where her body was found, was killed by trauma, according to officials.
Butts' body was discovered in a crawlspace and the bodies of King and Jefferson were found buried in a shallow grave at the adjacent property, according to police.
Investigators had been working to determine the identities of the victims since their discovery earlier this year. D.C. police said they were combing through missing person reports and coordinating with the family members of missing people to gather DNA to check to see if there was a match.
Back in May, officials determined that two of the victims were African American women between the ages of 30 and 60 and that their remains had been there for at least a year and possibly longer.
Investigators said they narrowed down their search to eight missing people and were able to find relatives to match the DNA of the remains to identify the victims.
A suspect has not been identified at this time, according to police. When asked if detectives were looking for a serial killer, Newsham said nothing had been ruled out.
"We would always consider that to be a potential in this case but at this point, we don't even know. We know that two of the victims died as the result of one suspected circumstance as there was not enough dirt between the two bodies that would indicate that they were put in there at separate times so we believe they were at least put in there at the same time and are probably associated but we don't know if the body found in the crawlspace and the two bodies that were later found are linked," Newsham explained.
FOX 5 spoke with one of Jefferson’s family members who did not want to be identified over safety concerns. She said Jefferson lived a hard life, but their family is upset she was right under detectives’ noses the whole time and feel more should have been done.
“I think D.C. police failed her,” she said. “They looked into her past of drug usage, prostitution and those things and they just swept it under the rug."
She added, “It’s definitely closure, but to just think of how she had to suffer and how she died, that is hard to think about.”
Family members for both King and Jefferson told FOX 5 they are not sure whether these women may have known each other.
Anyone with information that could aid detectives in their investigation was urged to call (202) 727-9099.