Investigators appear to be one step closer to identifying a woman and her young child whose murders have been unsolved for 25 years and were linked to the gruesome Gilgo Beach murders.
The Mobile Police Department in Alabama posted on Facebook that the FBI is seeking friends and family of Elijah “Lige” Howell/Howard, who lived in Prichard, Alabama, with his wife Carrie and died in Mobile in 1963 with Lillie Mae Wiggins Packer. The agency included in the post a photo of a tattoo that was found on an unidentified Long Island murder victim who is only known as “Peaches.”
“His relatives may be able to assist in the case of a woman and child found in another state,” authorities said in the post. “Does this tattoo look familiar?”
Peaches’ dismembered torso was found stuffed in a plastic bin at Hempstead Lake State Park in Lakeview on June 28, 1997. Additional skeletal remains were found in the brush off Ocean Parkway near Jones Beach State Park in April 2011. The Press first reported in 2016 that investigators used DNA evidence to determine that Peaches was the mother of an unidentified toddler who was among 10 sets of human remains found along the same parkway in 2010 and 2011 in what became known as the Long Island Serial Killer investigation.
Peaches and her child were placed at opposite ends of the dumping grounds, making them the two victims who were farthest apart from one another on Ocean Parkway.
Neither the FBI nor Nassau nor Mobile police respond to requests for comment and Suffolk prosecutors declined to comment, but Suffolk Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison acknowledged that there was “a slight lead” in the case, WPIX reported.
“It’s good that we’re putting names to the faces because maybe we get lucky and somebody down in Alabama knows something,” Joseph Giacalone, a retired NYPD sergeant who commanded a squad that investigated cold cases, told the Press.
The FBI’s request suggests that the investigators have been using genetic genealogy to help identify Peaches, experts say. Police similarly used databases in which members of the public share DNA to find family members to identify another victim in the Gilgo case: Valerie Mack, whose name was revealed in 2020 — two decades after she was found dead in Manorville. Additional remains belonging to Mack were found off Ocean Parkway a decade later.
“I would assume the FBI ran the DNA through genealogy site and got the hit, then passed along [the info] to the local PD in Mobile,” said Josh Zeman, who investigated the case in the 2016 A&E docuseries The Killing Season. “The dead end is interesting. Hence why there might not be a missing persons report on a missing adult and toddler.”
Howard’s potential connection to Peaches remains unclear. Although it’s uncertain if he had children, records show he had three siblings that have since died, but who did have children. That means there may be surviving nieces and nephews that could help investigators put a name to Peaches, advance the case, and help find her killer.
The apparent lead wouldn’t be the first that gave investigators hope they were close to identifying Peaches. A tattoo artist in Connecticut previously told police that he was the one who gave Peaches her ink, but he did not have her name on file.
If anyone has any information on this case can call 1-800-call-FBI or visit tips.fbi.gov. Anyone with information about Peaches can also call anonymously to Nassau County police Crime Stoppers at 1-800-244-TIPS. Anyone with information about Baby Doe can call anonymously to Suffolk County police Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS.
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