crimesider

Genealogist finds murder victim's family in Utah cold case

Theresa Greaves

KUTV

FRUIT HEIGHTS, Utah -- A Utah genealogist and radio personality has tracked down the family of a woman who had been missing for 32 years before she was found dead in February, according to a Deseret News report.

Theresa Rose Greaves was 23 when she disappeared on Aug. 5, 1983, reported CBS affiliate KUTV. Originally from New Jersey, the young woman had been living with roommates in Woods Cross, Utah, for five years when she vanished after boarding a bus for a job interview in Salt Lake City, reports the station. Woods Cross is about 10 miles north of Salt Lake City.

A passerby discovered a human skull Feb. 5, 2015 on a hillside near Fruit Heights, about 20 miles north of Salt Lake City, and investigators later identified it as belonging to Greaves. Police say she was killed, but haven't released her cause of death.

Investigators were at first unable to locate her next of kin to notify them that her remains had been found, according to the station. But that's changed since Scott Fisher, a local genealogist and host of the nationally syndicated radio program "Extreme Genes" took up the case, reports the Deseret News.

Fisher lives in the neighborhood where Greaves' remains were located and asked his longtime friend Davis County Sheriff Todd Richardson, an investigator on the case, if he could get involved.

"I said, 'I kind of have a special ability with this stuff. Would you like some help?' reports the paper.

"He said, 'Yeah, that would be awesome.' "

It was a tall order. Not only was it a 32-year-old case, but Greaves had been from out of state and her mother and grandmother were deceased, along with the roommate she had been living with in Woods Cross who was the last person she spoke to on the phone. Her father's name was not listed on her birth certificate, reports the paper.

Fisher took to Facebook, asking for information on a page created for 1977 graduates of Greaves' high school in New Jersey. He reportedly got in touch with a fellow alumna who offered to help by going to Greaves' old neighborhood and asking around.

The woman was able to come up with some names of relatives, and Fisher reportedly combed through Census records and Social Security Death Index records, eventually tracking down an uncle in Florida after dozens of phone calls, according to the paper.

"Eventually, the way it worked, I found the uncle of Theresa through his daughter-in-law," he told the paper. "I found the daughter-in-law by leaving a phone message at the home of her ex mother-in-law."

Despite the tricky trail, family members have now been notified that their long-missing relative has been found deceased, and have been communicating with Utah law enforcement, reports KUTV - all thanks to Fisher.

"They just did it of their own free time, which was wonderful," Sgt. DeeAnn Servey of the Davis County Sheriff's Office told the paper. "It worked out better than we thought."

The Deseret News reported last month that Douglas Lovell, who pleaded guilty to killing Joyce Yost in 1985 to prevent her from testifying against him for raping her months before, was questioned about the disappearance of Greaves and another woman. But in a 1993 interview with the Associated Press from Utah State Prison, he denied knowing either.

The Utah Supreme Court allowed Lovell to withdraw his guilty plea in 2010, and just days ago, Lovell was sentenced to death after a new murder trial in the Yost case, reported the Salt Lake Tribune.

Police wouldn't confirm to the paper whether Lovell was re-interviewed in the Greaves case. No one has been charged in her death.

Anyone with information about Theresa Greaves is asked to contact police at 801-451-4150.