For 25 years, the Fairfax County police have tried and failed to identify the “Christmas Tree Lady,” so named because she placed an eight-inch Christmas tree with gold balls and red ribbons on the clear plastic sheet she put on the ground, near the front of Pleasant Valley Memorial Park on Little River Turnpike. Her case has become an enduring mystery on the Internet, and she is the only person to die by suicide in Fairfax whom authorities have been unable to identify, before or since.
Enter Othram Inc., a forensic laboratory outside Houston. The company launched in 2018 specifically to solve police cases with advanced tools that can create complete DNA profiles of victims, and sometimes suspects. Now, it is taking on the Christmas Tree Lady, and Othram’s founder, David Mittelman, is highly confident that his company can do the genome sequencing that can provide leads for genealogical investigations, enabling Fairfax to not only identify the woman, but perhaps also answer questions for a family whose loved one disappeared.