FAIRFAX COUNTY, Virginia — After 25 years of investigation, police in Virginia have finally confirmed the identity of the ‘Christmas Tree Lady’ as a Davenport, Iowa-native.
In December 1996, police found the body of a woman in a Fairfax County cemetery. The woman had committed suicide, leaving a small Christmas tree on the ground before taking her life. She had no identification on her body and signed her suicide note as Jane Doe.
More than 25 years later, police know her real name: Joyce Meyer, 69. Meyer’s family believed she had moved to Virginia in the mid-1980s. She had no family in the area and was not reported missing, according to a Fairfax County Police Department press release.
According to the press release, when Meyer’s body was found her pockets contained two envelopes with 50 dollar bills and a typed note. The note said she had committed suicide, she didn’t want an autopsy, and wanted to be cremated. The notes were signed Jane Doe and no other form of identification was found.
Othram Inc., a company that specializes in advanced DNA testing, took DNA samples from the woman’s body to find matches that would help identify her. In May 2022 DNA matches were made between the woman and her potential siblings. Investigators spoke with the siblings who confirmed the woman’s identity was Meyer.
The Fairfax County Police Department said the funding for the testing was provided by anonymous donors through DNASolves, an organization that aims to help law enforcement agencies with human identification investigations.