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UNIDENTIFIED

Woman found in Lake Norman remains unknown

Posted on October 3, 2021

Updated on October 4, 2021

Local newsUnidentified
This crime scene photo shows a necklace worn by an unknown woman whose body was discovered in Lake Norman in 1997.

Contributed photo

This crime scene photo shows a necklace worn by an unknown woman whose body was discovered in Lake Norman in 1997.

This police sketch depicts the likely appearance of an unknown woman whose body was found in Lake Norman in 1997.

Contributed photo

This police sketch depicts the likely appearance of an unknown woman whose body was found in Lake Norman in 1997.

This crime scene photo shows a necklace worn by an unknown woman whose body was discovered in Lake Norman in 1997.

Contributed photo

This crime scene photo shows a necklace worn by an unknown woman whose body was discovered in Lake Norman in 1997.

This police sketch depicts the likely appearance of an unknown woman whose body was found in Lake Norman in 1997.

Contributed photo

This police sketch depicts the likely appearance of an unknown woman whose body was found in Lake Norman in 1997.

This police sketch depicts the likely appearance of an unknown woman whose body was found in Lake Norman in 1997.
This crime scene photo shows a necklace worn by an unknown woman whose body was discovered in Lake Norman in 1997.

Unidentified is a weekly series examining the more than 120 cases of unidentified human remains discovered in North Carolina. News Editor Lindell J. Kay produces each installment for The Enterprise of Spring Hope and other Restoration NewsMedia newspapers.

CLICK HERE to read previous installments in the series.

lkay@springhopeenterprise.com | 252-265-8117

LAKE NORMAN — Over the years, the Lady in the Lake has been the sorceress who spirits a dying King Arthur to Avalon in Celtic folklore; a 1940s Philip Marlowe novel and film noir movie; and a new true crime book about murders in Baltimore, Maryland.

But to locals in Sherrills Ford, a small town about an hour’s drive north of Charlotte, the lady in the lake is an unknown woman found in Lake Norman on July 24, 1997. That’s when a boater spotted a woman’s body near the Catawba-Iredell county line in a cove a half-mile north of the N.C. 150 bridge over Lake Norman, the state’s largest manmade lake.

Medical examiners estimate the lady in the lake died three to nine days prior to being found. Her body was in a state of decomposition and putrefaction. Her cause of death is unknown, but her toxicology results were negative for alcohol and drugs.

Whether washed ashore, unearthed in shallow graves, stumbled upon in the woods, discovered in abandoned houses, killed on busy roads or located in rivers, ponds and along railroad tracks, more than 120 bodies remain unidentified in North Carolina. This is one of their stories.

The lady in Lake Norman is believed to be of American Indian or Asian descent. She’s estimated to have been 30 to 50 years old when she died.

She was 5 feet, 3 inches tall and weighed around 80 pounds. She had dark, straight hair with some gray. Her eye color is unknown. Her ears were pierced three times. No tattoos or obvious scars were noted in her autopsy.

The lady in Lake Norman’s dental information is available for comparison. Teeth 1, 16, 18 and 32 are missing. Teeth 3, 15 and 30 have restorations.

Her DNA is available, but it’s unclear whether a profile has been created and entered into law enforcement databases. It’s unknown whether her fingerprints are on file. Prints might be available through the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation, according to information from the Doe Network, a volunteer-run international clearinghouse for unidentified and missing persons.

The woman’s head, chest and abdominal X-rays are available.

No record of the woman’s clothes could be found. She wore a gold chain necklace with pearls and a white-striped elastic hairband in her hair.

Sgts. Michael Hoyle and Joel Fish of the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office entered an updated sketch of the unknown woman into national databases in 2015 and added a photo of the necklace in 2017.

The woman’s case number in the National Unidentified and Missing Persons System is 2818.

Anyone with information about the lady in the lake can call the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office at 828-465-8345 or email Sgt. Joel Fish at jfish@catawbacountync.gov.

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