Sumter County Cold Case Homicide Victims Named

Pair identified after 44 years

Sumter, SC – January 21, 2021 – The Sumter County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) and the DNA Doe Project (DDP) announce the identity of a man and woman whose bodies were discovered on August 9, 1976 near Locklair Road, a narrow frontage road between Sumter and Florence, South Carolina. They are  James Paul Freund and Pamela Mae Buckley.  The pair had been shot repeatedly, and no identification or money was found with the bodies.

Mr. Freund was born in 1946 in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, relocating to Lancaster, Pennsylvania where he finished school. Ms. Buckley was born in 1951 in Redwood County, Minnesota but eventually moved to Colorado where she married.

After more than four decades, all attempts at identifying the two victims yielded no results. Citizen sleuth Matt McDaniel had been following this case for a number of years and suggested SCSO contact DDP.  In June 2019 SCSO was put in contact with DDP.  After DNA extraction and sequencing, Kevin Lord of Saber Investigations in Belton, Texas performed bioinformatics work to produce files suitable for upload to genealogical databases.

After uploading the files to GEDmatch and Family Tree DNA (FTDNA), DDP’s volunteer genealogists identified relatives of interest. Upon exploration of the matching pedigrees, the team was able to produce the names of likely candidates for SCSO. According to team leaders, both cases were solved quickly after FTDNA results were released to the research teams. As team member Jenny Lecus noted, “For 44 years their names were unknown. In about two days they were restored to them with genetic genealogy.”

DDP wishes to acknowledge the contributions of those groups and individuals who helped solve this case: the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office, especially Investigator Charles Bonner; Matt McDaniel for his unwavering interest in seeing the case solved; the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children; DNA Solutions in Oklahoma City and Astrea Forensics in Santa Cruz, California for extraction; HudsonAlpha Discovery for sequencing; Kevin Lord of Saber Investigations; GEDmatch and Family Tree DNA for providing their databases; and DDP’s dedicated teams of volunteer genealogists who provided SCSO with the names of the victims.

Although genealogical research was provided pro bono by DDP volunteers, DDP received generous donations from the listeners of Crime Junkie Podcast, D.E. Ward, and many other individual donors. Their interest and involvement are greatly appreciated.

About the DNA Doe Project

The DNA Doe Project, Inc. is an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to identify John and Jane Does and return them to their families. The genealogy research is pro bono, but relies on donations to fund lab costs when agencies cannot afford them.  To date DDP has made over forty confirmed identifications.  Discover more at https://dnadoeproject.org/ .

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