A headless, handless body stuffed inside a travel trunk near a dumpster in the Hudson Valley nearly four decades ago has been identified as a missing hair salon worker thanks to DNA testing and genealogical research.
The New York State Police announced Friday that the mangled corpse recovered on March 20, 1980 at the Hudson View Apartment Complex in Fishkill was that of Anna Papalardo-Blake.
Papalardo-Blake, 44, was last seen alive at 6 p.m. on March 18, 1980 as she left the Vidal Sassoon hair salon on 5th Avenue, where she worked as a receptionist. She was later reported missing to the police.
Two days after Papalardo-Blake’s disappearance, the decapitated and maimed female body turned up in Fishkill, about 65 miles north of Manhattan.
An initial examination led investigators to believe that the victim was a woman in her 20s, who stood about 5’6” tall and weighed 135 pounds.
State Police said that over the past four decades, investigators have followed hundreds of leads trying to identify the victim, but their efforts were hampered by what the agency described as “technological and forensic limitations of the time.”
In 2011, the case was entered into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System.
Thanks to recent advances in genetic technology, the FBI’s Genealogy Team was finally able to obtain a usable DNA sample from the body earlier this year.
Othram, a private lab that specializes in advanced forensic DNA analysis, said in a statement that it used the sample to create a comprehensive genealogical profile for the victim, which was then handed over to the FBI.
Acting on the information from the feds, State Police were able to positively identify the victim as Papalardo-Blake on May 26. However, the identification was not publicly announced until last week.
It still remains unknown who killed Papalardo-Blake, or why. State Police are asking anyone with information on this case to contact them.