Almost 13 years after her body was found in Gregg County, the name of “Lavender Doe” is known.
The Gregg County Sheriff’s Office released Dana Lynn Dodd’s name Monday afternoon after the News-Journal filed a request Jan. 30 seeking her name under state Freedom of Information laws.
Dodd, whose body was found in 2006, was 21 when she died. Her last known address was in Jacksonville, Florida, Gregg County Sheriff’s Lt. Josh Tubb reported Monday.
The DNA Doe Project announced Jan. 29 that it had identified Dodd, but neither it nor the Gregg County Sheriff’s Office would release her name.
Gregg County Sheriff Maxey Cerliano said at the time that a lieutenant with the department had been in contact with Dodd’s family.
Dodd’s identity had eluded authorities since sheriff’s deputies responded to a call Oct. 29, 2006, on an oil lease off Fritz Swanson Road north of Texas 31, where two men found her body facedown on a burning woodpile.
Joseph Wayne Burnette, 41, of Longview is being held on $2.5 million in bonds in Gregg County Jail on charges of murdering Dodd in 2006 and Felisha Pearson in 2018, and also failing to register as a sex offender.
“The Lavender Doe homicide case has been active from the beginning, and investigators never stopped trying to identify Lavender Doe,” Tubb wrote.
On the day of her murder, Dodd was believed to have been last seen in the parking lot of Walmart Supercenter on Fourth Street and might have solicited customers as they entered and exited the store to try to sell items from a brochure, Cerliano has said.
But while Dodd’s identity remained a mystery, investigators named Burnette as a person of interest based on evidence found at the scene.
At a joint news conference Aug. 27, the Longview Police Department said Burnette confessed six days earlier to killing Pearson, 28, whose body was found July 24 in the woods off Birdsong Street in Longview. Cerliano said Burnette also confessed to killing Dodd.
Gregg County and the police department that day announced two murder indictments against Burnette that said he killed both women by strangling them with a rope.
Because Burnette was jailed from July 2007 to February 2017, Longview Police Chief Mike Bishop said during the news conference he did not “have any reason to believe he was involved with any additional death investigations.”
Bishop said Pearson’s mother reported her missing to police July 19 “under unusual circumstances.”
On the next day, Longview police started a joint investigation with the sheriff’s office, Bishop said. The sheriff’s office found during the investigation that Burnette had not registered as a sex offender, and a warrant was issued for his arrest July 24, the same day Pearson’s body was found.