Missing for 53 years, Girl, 14, has name back
Events during the summer of 1969 rocked our world: Neil Armstrong took one small step for mankind on the Moon, hundreds of thousands of rock-n-roll fans crushed onto a dairy farm in New York for Woodstock and throngs of angry demonstrators marched on Washington to protest the Vietnam War.
That same summer, an event that did not make headlines rocked a Pennsylvania family’s world: Their 14-year-old daughter, Joan Marie Dymond, headed to a local park – and vanished. They never saw her again.
Only now, 53 years later – 53 years – her family finally has some answers, although her parents died long ago. Pennsylvania State Police announced today that human remains discovered in Luzerne County nearly 10 years ago have been identified as those of Joan Marie Dymond, a Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, teenager who disappeared on June 25, 1969 from the Andover Street Park.
“It didn’t reduce the sadness,” Suzanne Estock, Joan’s older sister, said at the press conference of finally getting some answers, but added: “I’m glad she was found, so we can have a service for her.”
After so much time had gone by, Estock said, she never expected the family would find out what happened, but their mother believed up until the day she died that her daughter would be found. “She never gave up hope,” she said.
Suzanne Estock at press conference.
“After 53 years, the family of Joan Marie Dymond very much deserves closure,” said Capt. Patrick Dougherty. “We will do everything in our power to see that they have it. We never stopped pursuing answers, and this investigation remains very active.”
The remains, previously known only as Jane “Newport” Doe, were discovered on Nov. 17, 2012 on the grounds of a former coal-mining operation in Newport Township – about 10 miles from the park. They were unearthed by people digging for relics in a trash-filled depression in the ground.
Examination of the remains determined that they were those of a female, likely in her mid-teens to early 20s who died of “suspicious” circumstances in the late 1960s.
Remains were found in Newport Township.
In 2018, Pennsylvania State Police contacted the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) requesting our help. NCMEC compiled lists of missing kids who could possibly match the victim and conducted public record searches to enhance lead information.
Every new technological advancement from the last 50 years – many never even imagined when she vanished – were used in efforts to give Joan her name back. Forensic anthropology. Facial reconstruction. Radiocarbon dating. Genealogy.
“Each resource built upon each other, revealing more clues that all led to this young female’s identity,” said Carol Schweitzer, who oversees the Forensic Services Unit. “This is how NCMEC comes alongside law enforcement in these challenging long-term cases. We will help develop a strategic approach to apply the right resources that will resolve cases.”
Pennsylvania State Police submitted the remains to Othram Inc. in March of this year for genetic testing. Othram provided troopers with possible family members, including Joan’s relatives, who submitted DNA samples to compare with a DNA profile of the remains. It was a match.
Now State Police are asking for the public’s help to find who killed Joan.
“This was a very challenging case, and a team of professionals rallied to determine who she was,” said Schweitzer. “Because of their perseverance and tenacity, we now know who she is. To finally be able to call her by name, Joan, and see a photograph of her for the first time, always makes me pause, think about the life we know she had, and send up a prayer letting her know she was never forgotten.”
If you have any information, please contact the Pennsylvania State Police at 570-542-4117, or NCMEC at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678.)