Kentucky State Police have positively identified a woman found dead in Knox County in 1985 as a missing North Carolina woman.
Trooper Shane Jacobs, public affairs officer at Post 10 in Harlan, said Monday that the remains located on the side of U.S. 25E in Gray, have been confirmed to be Espy Regina Black-Pilgrim.
Police confirmed the identity one year after being contacted by family members who had seen a shared social media post concerning the cold case and contacted state police.
Detective Aaron Frederick and Intelligence Analyst Chris Daniels secured DNA samples from the suspected children.
The samples were sent to the National Missing and Identified Persons Systems for comparison, which confirmed that the remains were those of Black-Pilgrim.
“The family now has some closure to their missing loved one after 33 years,” Jacobs stated.
The remains were found on April 1, 1985 by two hunters in an old refrigerator at a rural dumpsite in the Gray community.
An autopsy indicated that the individual, identified as female, had been murdered.
The woman was estimated to be between the ages of 25 and 35. She was wearing two different necklaces. One with a heart pendant and the second with an eagle pendant.
Witnesses reported seeing a woman matching that description at the old King’s Truck Stop off of exit 29 in Corbin. She was reportedly attempting to get a ride to North Carolina.
While the identity has been confirmed, Jacobs stated that the individual(s) responsible for Black-Pilgrim’s death remain unknown.
“This is still an ongoing murder investigation and anyone with information is asked to contact Kentucky State Police–Post 10,” Jacobs stated.
With the identity confirmed, Jacobs stated that Post 10, which serves Knox, Bell and Harlan counties, currently has no cases of unidentified individuals.
“Post 10 would also like to thank the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office in North Carolina for their assistance,” Jacobs added.