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Sampson County Jane Doe Identified: Her Name is Victoria


24 years after she was discovered in North Carolina, Sampson County Jane Doe finally has a name.

Victoria Dolores Mejia Paredes.  

On July 20, 1999, an unidentified female was found in a heavily wooded area in Sampson County, North Carolina. She was believed to be Caucasian or Hispanic and between 17 and 24 years old. Investigators estimated she died about two months prior to being found.  

Although her name was unknown at the time, there were a few clues to her identity. She had long red hair and a slim build. She was found wearing a black tank top, a dark blue bra, green Calvin Klein jeans, white sandals and an Elle wristwatch. Her fingernails were painted with blue-green nail polish.

Yet, despite clues, her name was still a mystery.

Until today.

Back in 2002, the North Carolina Office of the Chief Medical Examiner reported the case to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) and requested assistance. Over the years, NCMEC deployed multiple resources in attempts to identify this young woman, including a facial reconstruction image of what she may have looked like in life.  

The journey to finding Victoria’s identity took a new turn in August 2021, when NCMEC facilitated having DNA samples from Victoria submitted to Astrea Forensics pro bono to pursue forensic genetic genealogy. In June 2022, Astrea successfully developed usable DNA from hair samples, and NCMEC’s genealogist consultant Angela Trammel with the Kin Finder Group agreed to do the genealogy work pro bono. Initial genealogy efforts discovered that Jane Doe’s family originated in Honduras, which would become critical to solving the case.  

While genealogy work was ongoing, NCMEC featured Victoria’s case on our Help ID Me Facebook page. Just a few days after the post went up, the Sampson County Sheriff’s Office received a tip from someone who saw the post. The reporting party suggested that the unidentified young woman was an extended relative named Victoria who came from Honduras to the United States during 1999 at the age of 21 to meet with a man she was in a relationship with, Vayardo Meza.  

After only a few days of being in the U.S., Victoria disappeared.

The tip came with one other integral piece of information: Victoria and Meza had a daughter together who had been left behind in Honduras. The Sampson County Sheriff’s Office located her. She was in California. 

That’s when NCMEC facilitated DNA collection of the woman believed to be Jane Doe’s daughter. DNA results confirmed the key piece of information everyone had been searching for, a mother/child relationship between Sampson County Jane Doe and the woman.

Victoria finally had her name back.

Investigators say Victoria traveled from Honduras at the age of 21 to meet up with Meza in Rose Hill, North Carolina. However, when she arrived in the U.S., her family soon lost contact with her. According to police, Meza eventually returned to Honduras around April 2000 to inform Victoria’s family that she left him and never returned. Victoria was never reported missing to law enforcement.

Police say that Meza died in Honduras around 2000 or 2001. Throughout their investigation, interviews were conducted with both Victoria and Meza’s family members. Today, the investigation into Victoria’s death remains ongoing and anyone with information regarding Victoria or Vayardo Meza is urged to contact the investigators at the Sampson County Sheriff’s Office at 910-592-4141.

“The Sampson County Sheriff's Office extends its gratitude to the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Astrea Forensics, The Kin Finder Group, and the San Jose Police Department for their invaluable contributions,” said Sampson County Sherriff Jimmy Thornton. “This collaborative effort has brought the investigation closer to providing closure to the Paredes family.”

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