KSP - 1969 Harlan County Jane Doe has been identified

Harlan, Ky.  In June of 1969 a man picking flowers on the side of Little Shepherd Trail in Harlan County discovered the body of a female; through an investigation it was determined she had been murdered. At the time they estimated she was in her late teens or early twenties. For forty-seven years her identity would remain unknown.

This month, KSP Post 10 Detective Josh Howard was finally able to identify her. With the help of DNA and the NAMUS system the 1969 Jane Doe has been identified as Sonja Kaye Blair-Adams.

The NAMUS system (National Missing and Unidentified Persons System) is a database designed to assist the public and law enforcement in matching missing persons with unidentified remains. The 1969 Jane Doe was entered into NAMUS in 2009.

Karen Stipes, the daughter of Sonja Blair-Adams searched NAMUS and contacted Detective Josh Howard and Harlan County Coroner Philip Bianchi when she realized there was a possibility the 1969 Jane Doe may be her mother. Sonja was originally from Letcher County, Kentucky and was 21 at the time she was discovered.

With the assistance of Harlan County Coroner Philip Bianchi and Deputy Coroner Jim Rich, KSP investigators exhumed the body of the Jane Doe in 2015 in attempt to obtain a DNA sample to match with a DNA sample from Karen Stipes. The remains were sent to University of North Texas in 2015 and in September 2016 it was confirmed the DNA matched and the 1969 Jane Doe was Sonja Blair-Adams.

Detective Josh Howard was assigned to the case in 2013 and has put a tremendous amount of effort into finally resolving this case. Det. Howard will continue the investigation and hopes to identify her killer.

Harlan County Coroner Philip Bianchi, Sgt. Jason Joseph, Lt. Randy Surber and KSP Intelligence Analyst Chris Daniels have assisted Detective Howard in the investigation since 2013.

Anyone who has more information on this case should contact Kentucky State Police-Post 10 at 606-573-3131.


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