Citizen P.I. is investigating the murder of Dana Lynn Dodd, whose burned remains were found in Kilgore, Texas, in 2006. The cops instantly concluded it was a suicide, but the victim’s identity remained a mystery for twelve years.
Dodd’s killer was eventually discovered in 2018 as Joseph Wayne Burnette; however, the killer had also not known her identity.
On October 29, 2006, the body of Dodd was discovered burning on a woodpile near an oil field. The remains were badly burned, and there were no apparent signs of identification. To begin, the authorities were unsure as to the body’s gender, age, and ethnicity. Over time, they narrowed her down to a young white female and called her Lavender Doe.
Over the years, the cops tried various techniques to identify Lavender Doe; they made plaster casts to try to recreate her image and checked dental and DNA records, but all to no avail.
A breakthrough in this case finally came about through another tragic murder. On July 24, 2018, the body of 28-year-old Felisha Pearson was found in some woods in Longview, TX, approximately 20 miles to the north of Kilgore. Pearson had been reported missing five days previously.
Joseph Burnette confessed to the killing
The police soon began to suspect Burnette had killed Pearson. He was already in jail for a sex offense, and when the cops questioned him about Pearson, they got a confession out of the killer. But Burnette wasn’t done confessing; he then admitted responsibility for killing Lavender Doe.
Burnette was unable to shed any light on his victim’s identity. He claimed she had been selling items from a magazine when he persuaded her to get into his car.
Burnette pleaded guilty to both murders and was sentenced to 50 years in prison for each murder.
Finally, in 2018, the DNA Doe Project took on the case of identifying the body. They used DNA collected for genealogy databases to find a cousin of Dana Dodd. They learned that Dodd had been 21-years-old when Burnette had abducted and murdered her.
The Project also learned that Burnette had had a difficult life. Her mother had left her when she was a child, and her father was homeless. She was selling goods door-to-door for a company that partook in human trafficking when she was killed.
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Citizen P.I. airs at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.More: Citizen PI