Lay Them to Rest

On the Road with the Cold Case Investigators Who Identify the Nameless

Coming Soon


By Laurah Norton

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Take a fascinating deep dive into the dark world of forensic science as experts team up to solve the identity of an unknown woman by exploring the rapidly evolving techniques being used to break the most notorious cold cases.

Fans of true crime shows like CSI, NCIS, Criminal Minds, and Law and Order know that when it comes to “getting the bad guy” behind bars, your best chance of success boils down to the strength of your evidence—and the forensic science used to obtain it. Beyond the silver screen, forensic science has been used for decades to help solve even the most tough-to-crack cases. In 2018, the accused Golden State Killer, Joseph DeAngelo, was finally apprehended after a decades-long investigation thanks to a very recent technique called forensic genealogy, which has since led to the closure of hundreds of cold cases, bringing long-awaited justice to victims and families alike. But when it comes to solving these incredibly difficult cases, forensic genealogy is just the tip of the iceberg—and many readers have no idea just how far down that iceberg goes.
For Laurah Norton, forensic science was always more of a passion than anything else. But after learning about a mishandled 1990s cold case involving missing twins, she was spurred to action, eventually creating a massively popular podcast and building a platform that helped bring widespread attention and resources to the case. LAY THEM TO REST builds on Laurah’s fascination with these investigations, introducing readers to the history and evolution of forensic science, from the death masks used in Ancient Rome to the 3-D facial reconstruction technology used today. Incorporating the stories of real-life John & Jane Does from around the world, Laurah also examines how changing identification methods have helped solve the most iconic cold cases. Along the way readers will also get to see Laurah solve a case in real time with forensic anthropologist Dr. Amy Michael, as they try to determine the identity of “Ina” Jane Doe, a woman whose head was found in a brush in an Illinois park in 1993.
More than just a chronicle of the history of forensics, LAY THEM TO REST is also a celebration of the growing field of experts, forensic artists, and anthropologists (many of whom Laurah talks to in the book), who work tirelessly to bring closure to these unsolved cases. And of course, this book asks why some cases go unsolved, highlighting the “missing missing,” the sex workers, undocumented, the cases that so desperately need our attention, but so rarely get it.
Engrossing, informative, heartbreaking, and hopeful, LAY THEM TO REST is a deep dive into the world of forensic science, showing readers how far we’ve come in cracking cases and catching killers, and illuminating just how far we have yet to go.



The vast majority of conversations and all interviews included in this book were recorded so they could be reproduced in print. When that was not possible, the author worked with the subjects to reproduce the dialogue from our shared memory, text messages, and email. Some conversations and scenes have been condensed for length and clarity.



January 27, 1993—Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park near Ina, Illinois

It was January in Jefferson County, Illinois, and two local girls—ages ten and twelve—decided to go on a walk. Or maybe it was a run; news reports varied. It was late afternoon on a Wednesday, but the day reached fifty-five degrees and managed clear skies, which wasn’t too bad, especially for winter in the Midwest. It was as good a time as any to tromp through the state park that stretched across two local counties, Jefferson and Franklin, and wrapped around Rend Lake. The state recreation area covered more than three thousand acres,1 and most of it seemed to touch the water in one way or another. The northernmost edge of the property cut between Jefferson and Franklin, a boundary line that began beneath the lake. That edge of the park was close to the town of Ina, Illinois—a tiny place that nevertheless had made headlines just a few years before when an entire family, the Dardeens, had been murdered nearby.

The far shore of Wayne Fitzgerrell Park cut a ragged curve, creating peninsulas as it wound down toward its southernmost tip, culminating in a point out into the water. Illinois Route 154 bisected the southern point of the park, near the town of Whittington; that’s where the more formal entrance to the recreation area was, and where campers would pull in, during the various seasons, with RVs and trucks. Inside, they’d be able to peruse a picnic area, a horse barn, a boat launch, and the newly built Rend Lake Resort,2 which drew in guests from all over, but especially neighboring Missouri and Kentucky, and of course, Illinois. Hunters came when the season called for it, to stalk game or shoot fowl from land or boats. During the summers, families could prop their feet up and cast a lazy line from the docks built onto little cabins along the lake.

Of course, in the middle of winter, the sunshine-fueled activities that often populated the area with tourists had mostly come to a pause. But locals still enjoyed the park’s natural beauty, and security still did multiple rounds of the property each day from their vehicles. Park logs from late January 1993 showed no sign of suspicious or unusual activity.

The girls were exploring the park on foot when they noticed something red tangled up in the briars and brush. It sat at the base of a tree, on the right-hand side of the access road to the park’s primitive campground. Perhaps they imagined it was an assortment of autumn leaves that had been spared during winter’s erratic snowfalls. Or maybe they suspected right away, even if they didn’t want to.

Upon closer inspection, the girls must have realized the red coloring they’d spotted from afar was hair. Not a wig, or a discarded doll, or mannequin. This was human hair attached to a very human head, lying in the underbrush, with no body in sight. It was close to dusk. But they must have seen enough. And the girls must have run to find help.

Fortunately, they didn’t have far to go; an official record with the Illinois State Police was opened just thirty minutes later, at 5:20 p.m. That’s when the Illinois Division of Criminal Investigation, in Marion, Illinois, contacted Special Agent Charles Parker, who would become the initial reporting agent on the case. Special Agent Parker was informed that there had been the decapitated head of a presumed white female discovered at the north end of Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park. A number of officers were already on scene.

The park wasn’t busy that Wednesday; it was late January, after all. Winter vacation was over, and with deer season just finished, there were only a few guests registered to camp overnight.3 There wouldn’t have been many who saw the law-enforcement vehicles gathering at dusk, strung along the primitive campground road. There were cars from multiple agencies and both neighboring counties—Jefferson and Franklin. Officials knew they’d have to determine where on the county line the crime scene sat, though both agreed to assist with any search. Troopers. State police. Sheriff’s deputies. Blue-and-red lights casting color and shadow across trees set back from the road, dense in some spots, scattered in others, and mostly bare of leaves.

Thick brush crisscrossed the roots, and a steady ribbon of yellow winter grass separated the road from the woods. Under the glow of all that light, officers stepped forward to take a closer look at what the girls had seen: the decapitated head of a woman, whom the pathologist would initially estimate to have been between her late twenties and late thirties at the time of her death. She appeared to be white. Her head had been severed just below the fourth cervical vertebra. There were no other immediate signs of her remains in the area.

Law enforcement’s first impression that night was chilling: The officers suspected that whoever had dismembered this woman could have thrown her head from the driver’s side window of a vehicle, into the brush. Who knows where the crime itself may have occurred. There must be a thousand places where the evidence of murder—and certainly, it must have been murder, to commit such violence after the fact—could have been secreted away forever.

But then again, she hadn’t been hidden.

Assuming the perpetrator deposited her remains from a car, it wouldn’t have taken much longer to tuck her remains deeper into the woods, or to drive just a little farther down the road to the lake. But instead, she’d been left just a little way off the road. It seemed that she hadn’t been placed there so much as she might have been thrown. Maybe from a moving vehicle. Had the killer been frightened or forced away from the original drop-off spot he had in mind? Or had they really been that bold, or callous, or careless?

She was found at the north end of the park, closer to the town of Ina than to the town of Whittington, on the south end. Consequently, it was determined that the county line fell through the primitive campground, and the crime scene lay on the Jefferson County side of the divide, meaning it was Jefferson County’s case to handle, along with the Illinois State Police.4 Many agencies would be there, to help, into that first night and the coming days. But the woman would be forever associated primarily with Jefferson County and the little town near the north end of the park. In months, or maybe years, without a name to call her, she would become Ina Jane Doe.

Her case began officially with a State Police Case Action Report. The file would eventually stretch four hundred pages long, give or take, and contain photos, reports, VICAP printouts, phone notations, leads, test results, forensic reconstructions, records of evidence transfer between the coroner, the pathologist, a forensic odontologist, the lab, a forensic anthropologist… but the earliest was a slightly faded copy of a case report written by a member of the Illinois State Police. It was typed up afterward, from notes taken at the scene later that night. Twilight had set in by then. The woman’s red hair must have looked a different shade to the agent who was gathering as much information as quickly as he could before he lost all the light. Perhaps that’s why he described the victim as brunette. There are always inaccuracies.

This initial report was just a page or so of typed text, prepared a week after the first trip to the crime scene. It was soon accompanied by long lists of items collected at the scene, which were carefully bagged and placed in filters. Bag 1. Bag 2. Who had custody of Bag 7; what it contained. Where it would be taken. The language of investigation has always been to the point and detached. It has to be; the steps must be easy to retrace, again and again, by all the investigators who may follow.

From the case file of “Ina Jane Doe,” Freedom of Information Act fulfillment, excerpt:


[…] At approximately 6:00 PM on 01/27/1993, the reporting agent (R/A) arrived at the Primitive Camp area in the Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park north of Illinois Rt. 154 […] The R/A’s attention was directed to a thicket on the north side of the Primitive Camp Area Road. The R/A observed the decapitated head of a white female lying on the right side.

The decapitated head had brown hair which was partly entangled in briars […] Crime Scene Technician (CST) O. photographed the scene, took measurements, and processed the scene for evidence. At approximately 7:00 PM, Dr. G., Jefferson County Coroner, arrived at the scene. CST O. also examined the scene and took photographs, and at approximately 8:05 PM, the decapitated head was placed in a plastic bag and removed from the scene by Capt. A.

At approximately 8:55 pm […] the R/A, Capt. A, and CST O. met with Dr. G. and Dr. K. Dr. K x-rayed the plastic bag containing the decapitated head. An examination of the teeth revealed that a three-part root canal had been performed on the first molar of the lower left side, and the second molar on the lower left side had a filling. There was also a filling in the first molar on the lower right side, and there were no wisdom teeth present. It was also determined that the head had been severed at the fourth cervical vertebrae […]

Attached to this report is a copy of a map depicting the area with an ‘X’ marking the approximate location of the decapitated head.

The X was tiny, placed at the edge of a line that looked just like all the others. Following the thick black line of the map, the scene of discovery was 2.2 miles northwest of the park’s main entrance, and then another 1.2 miles north up the primitive campground road.

Though the search began at that spot on the night of the twenty-seventh, they’d have to return in the morning. And then again. Then they’d fan out, on foot, with dogs, and then to search by air.

[…] At approximately 8:00 AM, on 01/28/93, the reporting agent (R/A) met with personnel from The Illinois State Police, Division of Criminal Investigation (ISP/DCI), and Division of State Troopers (DST), the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department, and the Department of Conservation. Following the meeting, a foot and aerial search was conducted of the area where the decapitated head was found. The search included both sides of the access roads and the parking areas.

The language of a police file can seem disconcerting at first when it is viewed by outsiders. After all, it isn’t a suspense novel laid out with perfect detail so real that you feel like you’re standing in the cold woods yourself. In fact, you can forget there was a “there” at all. Or a woman. Because, for the context of that document, she’d been reduced to a part of what had once been whole: the head.

But when you take a step back, the rest of it shifts back into focus. You remember that the head—the person—lived through thousands of moments of life. That crown in her tooth had likely come with an afternoon numbed by Novocain, a thick, cotton-y feeling in the mouth, and then an aching jaw for a day. Her hair—naturally reddish, it would turn out, once examined in the light—wasn’t touched by gray. Then again, redheads generally don’t go gray early. And she was so much more than just her appearance. Was she a mother, a sister, a classmate, a friend? Had she made plans the day she died—to cook a meal, to pick up children from school, to finish a shift at work? All the clues they might have used, to make educated guesses about who she was and the life she left behind, had been carefully removed. She could have been anyone.

She was certainly someone, and that didn’t end the moment she died. But one thing you pick up when you follow the medical examiners, the anthropologists, and the rest of the specialists investigating the murders and identities of the dead is that the most decent of these professionals treat human remains with incredible respect. The best of them also want to solve their deaths and reunite victims with their identities. But they also distance themselves. It’s often necessary.

Perhaps, when they stop to think too long about the woman behind the decapitated head, found by the girls in the park, it’s harder to see the big picture. But maybe she’s always there, in the background, driving the case. I’ve read enough files and can sense when that urgency is there, under the antiseptic language.

Don’t get me wrong; there are definitely law-enforcement officers who don’t care much about cases, especially cold ones. That is a truth you learn quickly. And when you try to help families gain attention for missing loved ones, it becomes depressingly clear: Some cases only get a cursory examination. And there will always be families that know damned well that their loved ones’ files were lost, or thin, and will never be touched again, and they can’t even get a phone call returned. And too often, there’s nothing they can do about it.

But then there are those four-hundred-page files. Perhaps they begin with a report that might feel cold. Perhaps focusing on a decapitated head, in language that feels a million miles away from the horror of the moment. Underneath that, though, you’ll see the willingness to try out an array of methods, spend money on reconstruction, on testing, on anything, to get a person identified. The head is the language of the paperwork, not the heart. The memory of a slackened face against the dried grass, the decomposition. The knowledge that one person could and would decapitate another with a few clean strokes. But lying beneath all that are pages and pages of attempts at something resembling resolution, the undercurrent of every hour spent on a case that ultimately leads you right back to where you started.

In 1993, newspapers reported that Ina Jane Doe’s head was estimated to have lain in the park for two or three days, but the pathologist’s report amended that to four to five days, with an outside range of two weeks.5 The weather was cold but not consistently below freezing; records indicated highs in the mid-fifties and lows in the thirties on the twenty-seventh.6 The week or so before had featured days both cooler and warmer, with some evenings reaching freezing temperatures.

According to the pathologist who first examined her remains, there were no signs of animal predation or insect activity; that notation seems to indicate a PMI, or postmortem interval—time elapsed since death—on the shorter range of the scale. Even in winter, if Ina Jane Doe’s remains had rested along the side of the road for weeks, some scavenging would be expected. It was a small mercy that the head was still intact; her features were fairly recognizable, though the pathologist was uncertain of her eye color. He thought they had been dark—probably hazel or brown. A redheaded white female with hair that touched her shoulders, and, maybe, dark eyes. She was perhaps twenty-five or thirty, or so said the very earliest reports.7

That age estimate was later amended to thirty to fifty after all the experts had contributed their opinions. A wide range is normal, especially when a person is an adult and found in a state of decomposition or partial or full skeletonization. Without postcrania—that is, the rest of the skeleton below the skull—to examine, age-range estimations can be even broader.

All examiners noted that Ina Jane Doe had extensive dental work at some point in her life—including a rather unique crown and filling that might be used to identify her.8 But there was also significant decay affecting a number of her teeth. That’s a somewhat unusual combination: painstaking (and often expensive) dental restoration alongside advanced dental deterioration could signal some kind of change or shift in her life, whether it be physiological, environmental, or economic. That, too, could be a thread that might lead to her identification.

Her manner of death was listed as homicide. The effort made to hide her identity made it impossible to definitively rule on cause of death, though notations of her injuries were made and a suggestion was offered. The coroner carefully stored what had been recovered of Ina’s remains for two days in his freezer. Meanwhile, the local forensic tech helped officers from every department in the area search the rest of the park. That tech brought back samples in bags and vials—leaves, a tiny fleck of red material that had clung to the forest floor—and carefully entered them into the system. Long red hair from a comb used to examine Ina was bagged and marked. Once the pathologist took samples of blood and tissue, those specimens were labeled, too, and delivered to the lab for analysis.

In those first few days, records traced the path of each item and aspect of the case, from a single filter of dirt to the victim herself, to follow the chain of custody. The pathologist learned as much as they could during their initial inspection, and then sent Ina to be carefully examined by an anthropologist. But they could have learned so much more if the killer hadn’t dismembered her or they’d been able to find the rest of her body. In all likelihood, that had been the point. It was still in the early days of forensic DNA swabbing, but in 1993 they could check for fingerprints, swab for semen, and test blood type. No samples were submitted for DNA processing.

Back then, few departments had easy access to that kind of technology and testing, let alone the budget. The United States’ first criminal case had successfully been won, at least partially, thanks to DNA evidence, in 1987.9 But DNA collection was still not the norm, and this kind of evidence works best when you have something to compare it with. It would be another year before the 1994 DNA Identification Act, which established the National DNA Index System. The NDIS created a database and federal oversight of that system, where local and federal law enforcement could upload different DNA profiles of samples taken from various crime scenes, which would eventually become an element of the FBI’s CODIS—the Combined DNA Index System.

If Ina had been found years later, they might have been able to find remnants of the perpetrator’s DNA on her. But even so, if that person wasn’t in the system, there still wouldn’t be a match. The same could be said for her own DNA sample. Most departments wouldn’t see the true possibilities of investigative genetic genealogy until 2018 when scientists and genealogists used it to throw the door wide open for cases that had long gone cold, ranging from long-standing Doe cases to infamous serial perpetrators like the Golden State Killer, Joseph DeAngelo.

But in 1993, choices were limited. Illinois authorities could, and would, complete and submit a Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (VICAP) report for Ina. VICAP, developed and implemented in the mid-1980s, creates a repository for analysts who can then potentially connect crimes that might not otherwise be linked; for example, an investigator might notice a pattern in line with a case they’re working on, based on demographics, location, signature, or method.10 Illinois authorities would also begin their attempts to match Ina to a missing-persons report from another state, even as her remains made their way to a forensic anthropologist for further study.

Despite their efforts, investigators faced a number of challenges. First, the “crime scene” was not, in the literal sense, the scene of the crime but rather the point of discovery. What’s more, the majority of her skeleton was still missing, and law enforcement had no way of knowing if the murderer had further scattered her remains. The rest of her body could be anywhere, even in the nearby lake—the search of which would be an enormous undertaking, beyond the resources of a small department. It stretched thirteen miles long and three miles wide and had depths of up to thirty-five feet, though it averaged closer to ten.11

But she could have been taken anywhere else, too. She had not been a large woman in life. Stature was incredibly difficult to estimate, given the evidence, but no one thought she would have been over five foot five or so. On the park’s grounds alone, there would have been a hundred places to obscure the rest of her, especially if the killer had continued the ugly work he’d begun: dismembering and scattering her remains. There was no guarantee the rest of her body would be recovered, which in turn decreased the amount of information the investigators could feasibly glean about her life and her death. In hiding what was left of the victim, Ina’s killer had essentially forced investigators to work in reverse: Take this awful crime and turn it back into a person.

Jefferson County authorities had perhaps more experience with homicide than outsiders might’ve expected. Another similarly rural county might be looking at their first violent death in decades, had girls from their own town come upon a woman’s remains in the woods. But Ina’s murder wasn’t the sheriff’s department’s first shocking case over the past decade—not by a long shot.

Jefferson County was and is a comparatively sparse county: By 1990, there were only thirty-seven thousand residents, with fewer than five hundred living in Ina.12 But the 1980s had been hard on the town and the region. A ten-year-old girl was raped and murdered. A double poisoning was plotted by a reverend and his lover, each set on freedom from their respective spouses without the bother of divorce. A teenager had killed each member of his family, one by one, over in Mount Vernon.

And Jefferson County was the same department that in 1987 handled the gruesome Dardeen family homicides. Three-year-old Peter Dardeen was found beaten to death. So was his mother, Elaine, who’d been seven months pregnant with his baby sister. Elaine had gone into early labor during the attack, and the newborn baby was beaten to death, too. Elaine was also genitally mutilated after death. All three victims were discovered together, in Elaine and her husband Keith’s bed. The apparent murder weapon was Peter’s baseball bat.

Keith Dardeen became suspect number one—he was missing, as was his car. What’s more, he hadn’t reported to work at the Rend Lake water treatment plant. But a day later, authorities discovered Keith’s body in a nearby wheat field. Unlike the rest of his family, he’d been shot. And investigators discovered that Keith had also been subjected to extreme postmortem mutilation: His penis was sliced off and inserted into his mouth.13

No one understood why such terrible brutality had befallen the Dardeens: They had no secrets, no enemies. Eventually, Jefferson County authorities began to look further afield. Two serial killers were considered as possible suspects—one based on profile, and the other, a confession.

The first was Ángel Maturino Reséndiz; known as the “Railroad Killer,” he hopped rides across the country and killed in at least three states, including Illinois. After his 1999 arrest, Reséndiz was seriously considered as a suspect for the Dardeen murders.14 Aspects of the killings matched his patterns—and Ina is a railway town—but authorities were never able to link him to the area at the right time.15

Then there was Tommy Lynn Sells, the so-called “Coast to Coast Killer.” He rode the railways, too. He’d been convicted of the murder of a teenager, Kaylene Jo “Katy” Harris, in 2000. Sometime in the early ’00s, Tommy Lynn Sells began to talk—a lot. He confessed to the Dardeen family slayings and many other murders across the United States. And on the surface, he seemed to know some unreleased details of the Dardeen case—he was able to describe items in their home, for instance. But he took that confession back, along with others, sometime before his execution in 2014. When asked about the details, Tommy showed little compunction in explaining his technique. He repeated back details investigators had unknowingly dropped, and he took a guess at what decor a house in the 1980s might have.16

He was never prosecuted for the Dardeen murders. And in the years since, no one else has been either. Their families have no answers.

On the surface, Ina Jane Doe’s murder may not seem very similar to the Dardeen family killings as she was a single victim. Though dismemberment was a key feature in both cases, she was likely decapitated to obscure her identity, with the killer intending to dispose of her remains across several separate locations. Plus, she was purposefully removed from the scene of her murder, and her cause of death could only be guessed. Although mutilation was also a feature of the Dardeen murders, and Keith was moved from the family home and from the apparent scene of his death—likely his own car—there were no efforts made to obscure his identity or those of his wife and children. Keith’s and Elaine’s bodies also showed signs of violent overkill; with Ina Jane Doe, that determination couldn’t be fully made without postcrania, but what the pathologist gleaned from her limited autopsy didn’t show signs of that kind of rage.

And yet, like the Dardeens, the motive for her murder was unknown. And her case, grisly and tragic as it was, had landed in the tiny town of Ina, so small in the early 1990s that it was described by KMOV News as having “one stop light […] at the intersection of Main and Third streets.”17 There wasn’t room for much more; the village proper is only about two and a half square miles in total. Back then, there was a Baptist church. A barbecue joint. An antiques store.


  • “Part murder mystery, part master class in forensics, Laurah Norton’s Lay Them to Rest leads readers through a twisty personal investigation complete with a startling reckoning. Norton seamlessly transplants her passion for justice from her fantastic podcast to the narrative page—a must-read for true crime fanatics.”—Kate Winkler Dawson, American Sherlock: Murder, Forensics, and the Birth of American CSI
  • “Laurah Norton’s Lay Them to Rest is a beautifully woven mystery that captivates the reader from the first page as you root for her to solve the case. Norton’s expertise and her dedication to the victim shine through. This book and Norton’s work is the good in true crime that everyone should pay attention to.”—Sarah Turney, Victim Advocate and CEO, Voices for Justice Media
  • “Rarely do readers of true crime get something as fresh and engaging as Laurah Norton’s Lay Them to Rest. Norton’s passion and empathy shine in this candid and personal account of her work with unidentified persons. Her admiration of those who share her passion gives an intimate look behind the scenes of complex investigations. She effortlessly guides readers—with the help of industry experts—without losing focus on the people at the heart of the case. Lay Them to Rest leaves a lasting impression even after the final page is turned.”—Kristen Seavey, Victim’s Advocate and Creator, Murder, She Told podcast
  • “In Lay Them to Rest, Laurah Norton not only gives a masterclass on ethical research and reporting, but a humanizing and empathetic look at some of the most marginalized and overlooked victims: the nameless. Lay Them to Rest gives readers an unwaveringly honest look at what true crime actually is and entails; Laurah’s journey is equal parts obsessive and compassionate, exhilarating and patient, driven and human. I’ve never seen a more honest and comprehensive look at an investigation, which never shies away from juggling advocacy, working with law enforcement, and managing personal attachments. Every consumer of true-crime media should be required to read this work.”—Josh Hallmark, Creator, True Crime Bullsh**
  • “Laurah Norton pulls back the curtain on forensic sciences and allows readers easy access and understanding of the important work being done in this field.”—Nina Innsted, Host of Already Gone, They Walk Among America, Up and Vanished: The Trial of Ryan Duke, and Missing-Persons Advocate
  • “In Lay Them to Rest, Laurah Norton immerses readers in a captivating exploration of true crime’s true essence: the victims. Laurah takes us on a gripping journey as she illuminates the mystery surrounding ‘Ina Jane Doe,’ delving into the relentless collaborative efforts of agencies, forensic scientists, and experts to unveil her identity, honor her story, and provide the closure she deserves.”—Melissa Rice, Co-creator, Moms and Mysteries, and Board member of The Bridegan Foundation
  • “Laurah Norton’s beautiful and compelling narrative brings the reader along as the team cracks a cold case, all while giving us a hard look at the science—and art—of how they do it. With deep research and surprising moments of humor, this book has a place on the shelf of everyone who has ever wondered what it takes to solve a mystery.”—Charlie Worroll, Creator, Crimelines and Co-Creator, Crimelines and Consequences
  • “Laurah Norton takes us behind the scenes as she helps to solve a cold case in real time, skillfully breaking down layers of complexity in a way everyday readers can understand. A gripping must-read for anyone interested in true crime.”—Kristi Lee, Creator, Canadian True Crime
  • "Absolutely gripping... Norton’s commitment to her subject matter is contagious. She writes with such passion that readers will get caught up in the stories of otherwise overlooked and nameless victims, become invested in the outcomes of the cases she’s discussing, and share a sense of triumph when breakthroughs finally come. A fine and necessary addition to any nonfiction-crime aficionado’s bookshelf, and to any library’s true crime section."—Booklist
  • “A comprehensive study of the difficult task of figuring out the identities of faceless victims of violent crime…"—Kirkus
  • "True-crime podcast listeners will take the invitation to tag along on a challenging case."—Library Journal

On Sale
Oct 17, 2023
Page Count
352 pages
Hachette Books