Crime & Courts

Sketch released of woman found tied up in Lake Norman 18 years ago

N.C. State University experts developed this sketch of a woman whose body was found in Lake Norman 18 years ago.
N.C. State University experts developed this sketch of a woman whose body was found in Lake Norman 18 years ago. WBTV

The mystery surrounding the body of a woman found in Lake Norman 18 years ago has taken another twist.

The badly decomposed body was found by a fisherman in July 1997 in Catawba County. The woman was nude, tied up, and no one could identify her. She didn’t fit with any missing persons cases.

Experts at the time developed a sketch and determined the victim, who had been suffocated, was Asian.

Investigators were not able to determine how the woman’s body ended up in the lake. It could have been dumped from the bridge on N.C. 150 near where she was found, or from a boat.

Despite pleas for information over the years, few clues have come in. Now, after further examination and testing, N.C. State University experts believe the victim was a Hispanic woman in her late 30s, and they developed a sketch of what they think she may have looked like.

“We are hoping this will lead to an identification,” Catawba County Sheriff Coy Reid said. “We have never given up, but it has not been an easy case to solve.”

Asked if it is possible the woman was undocumented, and that is why no one came forward at the time, the sheriff said, “That’s entirely possible.”

Reid hopes someone’s memory will be jogged by the latest sketch. All leads will be followed, he said.

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