Canada Cracks One of Its Best Known Cold Cases

Woman murdered in 1975 identified as American businesswoman Jewell Langford
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 6, 2023 8:22 AM CDT
Victim in 1975 Canadian Case Identified as American Woman
The OPP released this photo of Jewell Parchman Langford.   (Ontario Provincial Police)

The victim in one of Canada's best-known cold cases was an American woman, investigators have confirmed almost 50 years after her body was found in the Nation River in eastern Ontario. Investigators from the Ontario Provincial Police used forensic genealogy to identify the woman known as the "Nation River Lady" as Jewell Parchman Langford, a Tennessee resident who was 48 years old when she traveled to Montreal in April 1975, the CBC reports. She was "a prominent member of the Jackson, Tennessee business community who had co-owned a spa with her ex-husband," the OPP said in a press release. She was the president of the Jackson chapter of the American Businesswomen's Association.

Investigators say Langford, who was reported missing by her family, was bound with neckties and strangled before her body was thrown off a bridge. Her body was found by a farmer on May 3, 1975. Rodney Nichols, an 81-year-old former Montreal resident now living in Hollywood, Florida, has been charged with murder and Canadian authorities have submitted an extradition request, the Montreal Gazette reports. "The accused and the victim were known to each other," the OPP said.

The case, believed to be the first in Canada cracked by forensic genealogy, was cold for decades until 2020, when investigators matched a DNA profile of the victim to two relatives on a public database, CBS reports. Dirk Huyer, Ontario's chief coroner, says that when the news was shared with Langford's family, "it was a very tough and moving meeting," but one that finally gave the family "information to allow them to have some resolution to the tragic loss of their loved one." Langford's remains were returned to the US for a memorial service and burial in March last year. The OPP said details of the case were not made public until now to avoid jeopardizing the investigation. (More cold cases stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.