DNA used to ID 2 crime victims years after cases went cold

Doris Regina Chavers (left) and Howard "Kip" Evans (right)
Posted at 11:48 AM, Apr 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-21 11:48:28-04

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- Two victims of separate violent crimes have been identified through DNA decades after their cases went cold.

The Volusia County Sheriff's Office said in a Facebook post that DNA was used to identify the remains of Howard "Kip" Evans, who was killed in 1986, and Doris Regina Chavers, whose body was found in 1991.

Evans was 29 when he disappeared and his remains were found in January 1986, officials said. His body had been there for an undetermined amount of time and officials classified his death as a homicide when a forensic examination revealed violent trauma.

The sheriff's office said leads and tips were followed for years, but investigators were never able to identify the victim. Eventually the case went cold.

Between 2006 and 2011, DNA was collected from the remains and sent to several laboratories as investigators tried to find a match in the FBI's Combined DNA Index System. There were no matches.

In 2019, information about Evans was received from posts in a missing persons group, sheriff's officials said. Investigators learned that a formal missing persons report was never filed for Evans, who was declared dead in 1990. Detectives obtained a DNA sample from his mother in South Carolina, and an analysis was performed by the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification and the FBI.

This month, Evans mother was notified that her son's remains had been identified.

Chavers was last seen at her mother's home in Aug. 1, 1989 and reported missing the following year, the post said. Two fishermen found her badly decomposed body on Aug. 19, 1991. An autopsy determined the woman had died from violent trauma.

Investigators entered the case into the FBI database to identify her and produce possible leads. But eventually the case went cold.

In 2018, Seminole County Sheriff's officials looked further into the case and tracked down Chavers' biological daughter. They obtained a DNA reference sample and sent it to the University of North Texas center.

On Jan. 21, detectives received confirmation that the daughter's DNA sample matched the remains found in Volusia County in 1991.

Volusia County detectives then delivered the news to Chavers' daughter, who was relieved to get some closure, they said. She told detectives that she's always believed something terrible had happened and that her mother would not have just abandoned her.

Investigators are continuing to investigate both cases.