Detectives in Portland, Oregon, finally have an idea of what a suspect in the death of a woman nearly 50 years ago looks like – at least around the time of the murder – thanks to the work of some volunteer genealogists. However, more help is still needed.
On April 8, 1963, Mary Francis Reid – known as Francis to her family – was found dead in her apartment. Police were never able to find a suspect until this past February when Portland police identified Johnny Lawrence as a suspect in the case. However, police had very little information about him. It wasn't until genealogy hobbyists got involved and dug up more information that detectives were able to find a photograph of Lawrence. Tami Murphy, a genealogist, was drawn to Reid's story.
"They didn't have a date of birth; they didn't know a middle initial; they didn’t have anything," she said by phone Wednesday about the suspect.
So Murphy put her 15 years of experience and access as a volunteer research genealogist to work. Her sleuthing skills took her from ancestry.com to family search sites, public libraries, old newspapers, old city directories and, finally, to prison record information.
Through a process of elimination, she helped identify Lawrence based on a criminal history and a booking photo from a 1943 arrest for robbery. Police are now looking for Johnny Lawrence, if he is still alive, or for a record of his death and burial.
How are your genealogy skills? Can you help find this man?
You can read more in an article by Meghan Kalkstein in the KATU News web site at http://goo.gl/X3ewO.
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