Cold case detectives have used DNA analysis to finally identify the “lady in the fridge,” nearly 30 years after her dead body was discovered submerged in a canal with her hands tied and mouth gagged.
The woman has now been named as Amanda Lynn Schumann Deza – whose body was put in a refrigerator at Whiskey Slough, a marina and boat storage in Holt, a community in San Joaquin County.
A man looking for recyclable cans made the gruesome discovery iMarch 1995. He saw a refrigerator in the water, pulled it out and saw a woman’s body wrapped in a blanket and tarpaulin. Detectives believed her dead corpse had lain undiscovered in the refrigerator for about six months.
At the time, a medical examiner determined that the woman had died from blunt trauma.
Deza – a mother of three – was carrying no ID when she disappeared and no missing persons report has ever been filed. The case went cold for decades until detectives used DNA analysis in conjunction with traditional genealogy research and sparked a critical breakthrough in the case.
Amanda Lynn Schumann Deza had been murdered and her body placed in a refrigerator at Whiskey Slough, a marina and boat depot in Holt, a community in San Joaquin County. Her identity was revealed at a press conference on Thursday after 27 years
The 30-year-old California woman was a mother of three young children at the time of her disappearance. Cold case detectives said they have very little information about her life and her activities for several years before her murder
On Thursday, the San Joaquin County announced that the mysterious identity of the “lady in the fridge” had been revealed. Sheriff Patrick Withrow said: “I’d like to use this time now to give her back her name, to give her back her story.”
Lieutenant Linda Jimenez, chief of the Sheriff’s Office’s cold case division and the sheriff’s investigative division, said the victim in the Napa, Oakley and Delta areas.
But they have very little information about her life and her activities for several years before her murder.
Jimenez Also said people were looking for Deza after she went missing, but no missing person report was ever filed.
According to Sheriff Withrow, Deva appeared to be going through hard times and the victim’s family was shocked by the news of her death.
The San Joaquin County Medical Examiner and Sheriff’s Office partnered with Othram, a Texas-based company that specializes in forensic genealogy.
The company helped create a DNA profile on Amanda Lynn Schumann Deza – the information then helped detectives generate investigation leads. Part of those leads included contacting the victim’s mother and daughter who provided DNA samples, which were confirmed to be matches.
“Amanda is a daughter, she’s a sister, she’s a mother, she’s a friend,” Jimenez said at the press conference.
“And there are many of you who know her life and have information about her life, the activities she was involved in, the friendships she had, as well as all the intimate relationships.”
The area where the body of ‘the lady in the fridge’ was discovered
The image shown is a kind of compartment that has been in an archive since April 1995
The man in the 1995 news clip was the junk collector who made the gruesome discovery. He saw a refrigerator lying in the water and when he pulled it out he saw a woman’s body wrapped in tarpaulin and a blanket
A detective shows some other evidence, including a sock and a boot
The scene of the marina littered with loose tires and debris
Shown here is the victim’s boot
More earring fragments found at the scene are shown
A blue tarp from the crime scene in 1995
District Attorney Ron Freitas, who was also present at Thursday’s press conference, said “this case is far from closed and justice is far from served.”
“I look forward to prosecuting the coward who committed this heinous act (before) the law… to her family,” he said.
Although Deza’s identity is now known, her killer(s) were never caught. A reward of up to $10,000 is offered by the Stockton CrimeStoppers.
The sheriff’s office is urging the public to contact them for information at 209-468-5087; callers can remain anonymous or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
San Joaquin County Sheriff Patrick Withrow announced the news at a news conference Thursday
An undated photo of the young mother before her disappearance