KISSIMMEE, Fla. – After almost 30 years, a murdered Kissimmee mother has been identified as the victim in a South Carolina cold case.
Investigators with the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office identified the victim as 36-year-old Maria Telles-Gonzalez.
At the time of her death, Telles-Gonzalez was a wife and mother of three.
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Investigators said there are a couple of reasons why identifying Telles-Gonzalez was difficult. When she was found, she didn’t have any possessions on her like a wallet to help point to her identity. On top of that, no one had reported her missing for nearly 30 years.
Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office Reserve Deputy Sheriff Investigator Bob Bromage said he’s never given up on identifying Maria Telles-Gonzalez, the murdered Jane Doe found in a drainage ditch in Yemassee, South Carolina, on May 24, 1995.
He said she was at their family home the day after she got back from a trip to Puerto Rico. Her kids went to school, leaving her at home alone with her husband. When her children got home from school, their mother was gone.
“She was only wearing underwear at the time (she was found),” Bromage said. “There were no other identifiers other than she had a hysterectomy scar and a thyroid scar from surgeries. No jewelry, no identification, no other clothing.”
Bromage said Telles-Gonzalez’s death was ruled a homicide with the cause of death being strangulation. The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office spent years matching her DNA to hundreds and hundreds of missing women. None were a match.
The agency brought in the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Interpol. In 2020, the agency began genealogy testing. After two years of research, they had a match.
“A kinship report was sent to us matching the biological son of Maria Telles-Gonzalez and we now have an identification,” Bromage said.
After conducting interviews with the family, investigators have determined two people who they feel may have critical information in connection to the case. Officials are looking for Telles-Gonzalez’s friend, Patricia or Patty, and a potential boyfriend of Telles-Gonzalez from Colombia.
“There’s information gathered in this investigation that would indicate she was having an affair at the time of her disappearance back in 1995,” Bromage said. “I’m not sure he’s a person of interest, but certainly an interview that we have to conduct.”
Bromage said Patricia and Maria met when both of their husbands were stationed in Hawaii with the Army. It is believed Patricia and Maria reconnected in Central Florida around the time of her death.
“It’s unknown where they’re at,” Bromage said. “Patty or Patricia may have moved back to Hawaii, she may or may not be in the country, we don’t know.”
Bromage said it’s possible this crime could have happened in Florida.
Since Telles-Gonzalez’s identification, the family has hired criminal defense attorney Jay Rooth. News 6 has reached out to Rooth for an interview and we are waiting to hear back.
If you have any information in this case, you can contact Bromage at 843-816-8013 or email him at email@example.com.
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