DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) — On July 31, 2020, the body of a woman was found at Wheeler Wildlife Refuge after a fisherman stumbled across her remains in the water.

Since that day, detectives with the Decatur Police Department (DPD) along with multiple other agencies have been hard at work, pushing for answers to give the unknown woman a name.

On Monday, December 19, 2022, the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) announced that they could finally do just that, confirming the remains found were Wanda Ashford Floyd of Courtland.

The Lawrence County Sheriff's Office said a citizen contacted them after seeing a picture of Floyd on the Downtown Rescue Mission's webpage, and investigators discovered the picture was taken before she disappeared.
Wanda Ashford Floyd (Lawrence Co. Sheriff’s Office)

Authorities said Floyd had been taken to Decatur General Hospital for an unknown medical issue on July 15, 2020, around 9:14 a.m. She was released just a few hours later at 12:02 p.m.

Friends of Floyd’s grew concerned after not hearing from the 61-year-old and decided to contact authorities.

Just over two weeks after she was released from the hospital, a fisherman found human remains in Flint Creek in Morgan County. Detectives gathered DNA that would be sent and analyzed. Unfortunately, it didn’t match anything in the database at the time.

Over one year after her body was found, DPD called for the public’s help by putting out this digital forensic reconstruction image, created with the help of the FBI, of what the victim may have looked like.

Digital composite of what Jane Doe may have looked like (Decatur Police Dept.)

At the time, they believed she may have been between 25 and 50 years old, around 5’9″ tall and weighing approximately 100-140 pounds. Her ethnicity was unknown.

Meanwhile, in December 2021, officials in Lawrence Co. updated their Facebook page about Floyd’s disappearance to keep the case alive, asking anyone with information to contact them.

Around that same time, an investigator with the Mobile County Cold Case Unit (MCCCU) got in touch with Decatur Police to help with “investigative genetic genealogy” on the then-unidentified Jane Doe.

There seemed to be some similarities between Jane Doe and Floyd, the LCSO said, so a close relative of Floyd’s provided a DNA sample to test the theory.

On Monday, authorities made the following announcement:

The Mobile County Sheriffs Office Cold Case Unit working with some of their close partnerships with Moxxy Forensic Investigations, Hudson-Alpha Discovery, Saber Investigations, GEDMatch, and the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences were able to determine the identity of the Jane Doe to be Ms. Wanda Ashford Floyd.

The Mobile County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank their partners who volunteered their services, Carla Davis (a philanthropist) who fully funded the lab cost needed to identify Ms. Wanda Ashford Floyd, The Decatur Police Department and Genealogy Analyst Olivia McCarter of the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office.

Lawrence Co. Sheriff’s Office

Lawrence County Sheriff Max Sanders said that despite it wasn’t the outcome anyone had hoped for, Floyd’s family extended their gratitude to everyone who helped solve her case.

Sheriff Sanders also thanked citizens who helped search for Floyd and all the investigators who followed up on all leads.

According to the LCSO, the Decatur Police Department is handling the death investigation, which confirmed with News 19 that “no foul play” is suspected in Floyd’s death.