Woman found dead in ditch in 1995 in Yemassee identified

Published: Dec. 1, 2022 at 10:58 AM EST|Updated: Dec. 1, 2022 at 11:19 PM EST
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BEAUFORT COUNTY, S.C. (WTOC) - A woman found dead in a drainage ditch in Yemassee in 1995 has been identified.

A deceased woman was found in a roadside drainage ditch off Cotton Hall Road in Yemassee on May 24, 1995. The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office held a news conference Thursday to provide an update on the case after 27 years.

According to the sheriff’s office, the woman has been identified as Maria Telles-Gonzalez, of Kissimmee, Fla. She was 36 years old at the time of her death and a mother of three. Her cause of death was strangulation.

“Violent death. Up close and personal. She was strangled and left in a pair of underwear in a drainage ditch,” said investigator Robert Bromage.

After an autopsy confirmed how Gonzalez was killed, she was entered into a database that searched missing persons across the nation.

As of Thursday, there still haven’t been any matches.

Four years later after the case remained unsolved, employed as well as retired cold case investigators and law enforcement officers used new technology to analyze hundreds of of missing persons that partially matched Gonzalez. Sybil Warren....Josefina Nava...no matches and they remain missing.

Two years ago, detectives used Gonzalez’ DNA to trace her ancestry reaching out to hundreds of possible family members. It wasn’t until two months ago that they found a match. Her son.

For almost 30 years, her kids never knew the full story.

“The children thought she left and were obviously very upset.”

The sheriff’s office learned through interviews that the day after Gonzalez had returned home from a trip to Puerto Rico, she was last seen at home with her husband. The three children were off to school.

The sheriff’s office says it’s sad to think of how this all happened...how she was left with nothing and no one.

“After all these years...this woman...36 years old...dumped on a wilderness road in North Beaufort County in a pair of underwear dead....family never reported her missing,” said Sheriff PJ Tanner.

The sheriff’s office said that they have contacted the children and family. They now have attorneys.

Investigators are trying to identify two people closely connected to Maria; her close friend whose name may be “Patricia” and a male friend/suspected boyfriend, who remains unidentified.

They are believed to have also lived in the Kissimmee, Fla. area.

*(Beaufort County Sheriff's Office)
*(Beaufort County Sheriff's Office)