Investigators identify body in nearly 40-year-old cold case - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Investigators identify body in nearly 40-year-old cold case


BECKLEY, W.Va. (WVVA) Her disappearance rocked the tight-knit community of Beaver in September of 1977. Nearly forty years ago, Margaret Dodd, 27, left her job at the Raleigh Mall in Beckley and never made it home. 

At the time of her disappearance, two witnesses spotted Dodd en route to her Beaver home pulling off at the old Amoco gas station on Route 19. The father and child who lived nearby said they saw a second car pulled in behind her and a struggle ensued. The witnesses said they left to call police, but by the time they returned, Dodd and her attacker were gone. 

"They knew something was very very wrong," recalled retired Beckley Police Chief of Detectives Frank Pack, who worked 22 hour days in the weeks following the abduction. 

Pack said one of the witnesses described her attacker as 'the Fonz' off of Happy Days, a popular television show at the time. There were many leads during that time, he said, but no body until now.

It would not be until nearly 40 years later that investigators would get a break in the case. In January, Raleigh County Sheriff's Capt. Larry Lilly decided to take a closer look at the case of a 1993 body found on Bolt Mountain.

"There were loose ends," said Capt. Lilly, and he brought in Dodd's family to compare jewelry, clothes, and mitochondrial DNA found on the Bolt body. (Mitochondrial DNA testing was not available at the time of Dodd's disappearance). 

Dodd's family recognized the items, said Lilly, but it was not until this week that he learned the mitochondrial DNA was a match.

"Now, there's people we want to talk to. I've talked a lot with Sgt. Daniel and we're going to be actively working this," said Capt. Lilly, who is working closely with Raleigh County's new Cold Case Committee and Sgt. R.A. Daniel with the West Virginia State Police. 

Sgt. Daniel said he was included in the investigation because of his familiarity with several of the people who were interviewed or witnesses in the case. "It's difficult, but not impossible to convict someone when you don't have a body. But now we have that missing piece."

Why were Margaret Dodd's remains on Bolt Mountain? What was her killer's connection to the area?

Those are the questions investigators need help from the public in answering.

Those with information can call CrimeStoppers at 255-STOP or visit their new website at  Tips may remain anonymous.


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