A "true friend," is how Patty Lord describes the oldest of her three children.
"Carrie would light up a room when she walked in,” Patty recalled.
In 2004, Carrie Singer moved to Hampton Roads.
“She enjoyed life to the fullest,” Patty said.
Shortly after, Patty got the news no mother ever wants to hear.
“It was unreal,” she remembered. “Nothing seemed real at that moment.”
On July 1, 2004, a farmer found Carrie's body at the edge of a field near Morgart's Beach. Investigators with the Isle of Wight Sheriff's Office cordoned off a crime scene to collect evidence, but the case ended up going cold.
After years of dead ends, the sheriff's office reopened Carrie's file in 2012.
“This case has definitely been a rollercoaster full of emotions,” said Lt. Tommy Potter, who is now the chief investigator. “We can't talk to our victim, obviously it's a homicide case. We don't have a lot of circle of friends and acquaintances to talk to. All we have is physical evidence and we need something to give us that break in that case.”
It came when the team learned about a private lab in Florida using something called an "M-Vac." Up to this point, detectives had to use their best judgment to guess where on a piece of evidence a suspect may have touched or left DNA and then have state lab test that specific area. But M-Vac is like a powerful vacuum for DNA.
“Instead of having to pinpoint the most likely location, they are able to process the entire item,” Potter described. “So, it greatly enhances the forensic scientist's ability to extract a profile.”
After 13 years, M-Vac led to the discovery of a new profile on the evidence in Carrie's case.
“We think the profile that we got from 2017 is the profile of the person responsible for Carrie's death,” Potter enthused.
Authorities then utilized another technology which did not exist back in 2004. Parabon Snapshot used DNA Phenotyping to come up with a composite of a possible suspect in this case. The science predicts physical appearance and ancestry based on a DNA sample.
Potter said this was a game-changer. In the past, any tips about suspects had been about white men, black men and a friendship Carrie had started with a female.
“We have spent 13 years concentrating on those groups of people and in one test, we now know that in our case we are looking for a male who has a Latino or a Hispanic background,” he explained. “It's kind of like a compass. Parabon has pointed us in this direction and says this is the direction you need to go.”
Patty Lord hopes someone will see the composite and know something about her daughter's case.
“I just hope that through my lifetime that there will be earthly justice for Carrie,” she added.