DNA IDs Woman Killed in 1987 Turnpike Crash

Harrisburg, PA - The Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) Troop T announced today it closed a 35-year-old case by identifying the victim of a fatal crash on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Linda Jean McClure, 26, of Indiana, Pennsylvania, was a passenger in a tractor-trailer that crashed at mile marker 119.4 eastbound, in Stoneycreek Township, Somerset County, on October 22, 1987. The tractor-trailer caught fire after striking the fuel tank of another semi-trailer truck, killing McClure and her driver.

While police immediately identified the truck driver as a California man, his passenger remained unknown despite multiple attempts to identify her. In August 2022, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission agreed to pay for forensic genetic genealogy DNA testing.

Once funding for the testing was secured, the Pennsylvania State Police teamed up with Othram to help establish an identity for the unknown woman or to at least identify a nearest living relative.  Forensic evidence was sent to Othram's lab in The Woodlands, Texas where forensic scientists used Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing® to produce a genealogical profile for the unknown female. Othram's genealogy team then produced investigative leads from this profile.

PSP Troop T investigators continued their investigation and determined that the woman was McClure. McClure's family told investigators they last communicated with her in the late 1980s. She was not reported as missing to law enforcement.

Her brother submitted a DNA sample for comparison, which confirmed McClure was the victim of the crash.

"There were many obstacles in this case but none that deterred the outcome," said Major Michael Carroll, Commander of PSP Area II. "I commend the troopers who remained dedicated to their duty and ultimately brought closure to this case."

"The Pennsylvania Turnpike is pleased we were able to support the State Police on this cold case," said Pennsylvania Turnpike CEO Mark Compton. "We hope that this revelation provides long overdue comfort to Ms. McClure's family."

For more information on the Pennsylvania State Police, visit psp.pa.gov.

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Media Contacts

Adam Reed

State Police Media

Myles Snyder

State Police Media