Skeletal remains that washed up on the shore of Percy Priest Lake 16 years ago have been identified as those of missing 22-year-old Jennifer Cole from Dallas.
The Center for Human Identification at the University of North Texas matched the DNA samples submitted from Cole’s parents to the remains, which were still stored at Nashville’s Forensic Sciences Center.
According to Metro police, Cole was involved in prostitution and had come to Nashville from Texas. A fisherman found her remains on March 10, 1997.
Cole’s mother apparently tried to report her missing in Texas in 1996, but found out years later that no documentation had been filed. The missing person report was taken by the Garland, Texas Police Department in 2005.
Despite not having identified the victim’s name, Metro detectives charged Luther Nelson Lynch with first-degree murder on Oct. 4, 2000, based partly on various statements he made about the woman’s death.
According to police Lynch picked Cole up for prostitution in the Dickerson Road area in the summer of 1996 and killed her before dumping the body in a shallow grave off Alvin Sperry Road just inside Wilson County.
Lynch was convicted of voluntary manslaughter on Nov. 1, 2001, and received a 15-year sentence. He was released from prison in 2011.