ST. GEORGE — Efforts to name the victim in a 20-year-old cold case have paid off for Utah investigators as a person known only as the “Maidenwater victim” has been identified as 37-year-old Lina Reyes-Geddes, of Ohio.
“After tireless work and the public’s help, agents with the Utah Department of Public Safety have made a major breakthrough in their 1998 cold case investigation,” Utah DPS said in a press release issued Thursday morning.
Reyes-Geddes was identified thanks to the efforts of a person in California who has an interest in cold cases, State Bureau of Investigation Agent Brian Davis said during a press conference Thursday afternoon.
Around the time Utah DPS held a press conference in early October asking to the public’s help to identify the Maidenwater victim, police in Youngstown, Ohio were updating their missing persons files and released a photo to the public of Reyes-Geddes.
Both cases were noticed by the California resident who saw a familiarity between the Maidenwater victim autopsy photo Utah DPS released and Reyes-Geddes’ missing persons photo and subsequently contacted the authorities.
Reyes-Geddes’ identification was confirmed after a sister and niece traveled to the U.S. consulate in Monterrey, Mexico, and provided DNA samples that were sent to the Utah crime lab for testing. The results came back with a positive match, Davis said.
The woman disappeared after leaving on a trip that would leave from Ohio to Dallas and then to Mexico where she planned to visit family. She never made it to Texas.
Why and how she ended up in Utah is still being investigated, Davis said.
Reyes-Geddes’ body was found alongside state Route 276 near milepost 8, approximately 38 miles north of Lake Powell in April 1998. Her death is attributed to a gunshot wound to the head.
Her body was covered with plastic bags, wrapped in duct tape, tied with rope and placed in a sleeping bag before being wrapped in carpet, according to DPS.
Reyes-Geddes’ fingertips had also been removed, making identification through that method impossible, Davis said.
Investigators have previously pointed to serial killer Scott Kimball as the primary suspect in the case. He is serving a 70-year prison sentence in Colorado for the murder of four people and is believed to be tied to others.
While Kimball has denied involvement in Reyes-Geddes’ death, he remains a suspect, Davis said.
The Garfield County Sheriff’s Office initially posted on Facebook Wednesday that it believed the suspect in the murder had “committed suicide in Nevada in the early 2000s.” That part of the Facebook post has since been removed.
Davis said that person has been Reyes-Geddes’ husband at the time and investigators do not consider him a suspec at this time.
While the investigation continues, state authorities are also working with the family to get Reyes-Geddes’ remains sent to Mexico.
Ed. note: This story has been update with additional information and corrects details related to how Lina Reyes-Geddes was identified.
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