Anne Arundel County Police and federal officials announced Friday that they identified a suspect in the death of 16-year-old Pamela Lynn Conyers through extensive DNA tests and investigative genetic genealogy, solving the 52-year-old cold case.

Police identified Forrest Clyde William III as the suspect in Conyers’ 1970 killing, and said her death was caused by asphyxiation due to strangulation.

Williams, an Anne Arundel County resident who was 21 at the time of the killing, died in 2018, making it impossible to file any charges. Detectives said he was arrested a few times in Anne Arundel County in the early 1970s for minor charges, and he had no known connection to Conyers.

Lt. Jacklyn Davis said that although detectives believe Williams is responsible, they have not ruled out the possibility of additional suspects in Conyers’ killing.

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“To the family of Pamela we hope that today’s announcement brings at least some degree of comfort and peace in finally learning who was responsible for her murder,” Anne Arundel County Police Chief Amal E. Awad said. “Pamela was never forgotten nor will she ever be forgotten.”

The FBI Special Agent in Charge Tom Sobocinski speaks on the 1970 murder of 16-year-old Pamela Lynn Conyers during a press conference at the Anne Arundel Police Headquarters on March 10, 2023.
The FBI Special Agent in Charge Tom Sobocinski speaks on the 1970 killing of 16-year-old Pamela Lynn Conyers during a press conference at the Anne Arundel Police Headquarters on March 10, 2023. (Kaitlin Newman/The Baltimore Banner)

Conyers was last seen alive on Oct. 16, 1970, in Harundale Mall in Glen Burnie, according to Anne Arundel County Police cold case files. The 16-year-old had attended Glen Burnie High School’s homecoming bonfire and pep rally, and then went home where she spoke with her mother.

Later that night, Conyers drove to the mall in her family’s 1967 Dodge Monaco to get shoe polish for the dance the next day. She never returned home.

Three days later, her car was found, and the next day on Oct. 20, her body was found a short distance from the vehicle. Police found Conyers’ body in a wooded median on Maryland Route 177 near Millersville, which was under construction at the time. The area is now known as Route 100 near the Waterford Road and Route 648 overpass.

Conyers’ body was discovered clothed in slacks and an inside-out pullover. Her underwear and purse were missing, according to reporting in The Capital in 1970.

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FBI Special Agent in Charge Tom Sobocinski said that when Conyers was killed in 1970, authorities lacked advanced technology to help solve crimes.

“DNA analysis did not exist,” Sobocinski said. “The tools both scientific and investigative used to solve her murder have evolved. This technique gives the FBI a chance to solve cases that would not have been solved in every other way. It has given hope when previously there may have been none.”

Sobocinski could not give specific details on how they linked the DNA to Williams, but he said for cases such as Conyers’, they put the DNA into a commercially available database, identify a family member through the DNA, create a family tree and then take a DNA sample from a family member.

Conyers was also last seen at the same mall where Joyce Malecki was last seen before her killing in 1969. Her killing remains unsolved. Malecki’s case gained national attention in the 2017 Netflix documentary “The Keepers.” Police did not link the suspect with any other killings.

Conyers’ killing was one of the oldest unsolved homicide cases of the 82 cold cases in Anne Arundel County.

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One of Conyers’ former high school classmates and fellow band member, Michael Golden, attended the announcement.

He said he felt some sense of resolution but added, “I still mourn her death. I got to be old. She didn’t. She’s forever 16.”

High school friend and former bandmate, Michael Golden class of ‘73, speaks on the 1970 murder of 16-year-old Pamela Lynn Conyers during a press conference at the Anne Arundel Police Headquarters on March 10, 2023.
High school friend and former bandmate, Michael Golden class of ‘73, speaks on the 1970 killing of 16-year-old Pamela Lynn Conyers during a press conference at the Anne Arundel Police Headquarters on March 10, 2023. (Kaitlin Newman/The Baltimore Banner)

Golden, who graduated from high school in 1973, said he met Conyers in 1967 in band. He played the standing bass and she played flute. He said she he thought of her as the sweet “girl next door.”

When he first learned of Conyers’ death, he said he didn’t think it was real until he walked into trigonometry the next Monday morning to find her chair empty.

“Seeing her empty desk really brought it home — made it real,” Golden said. “It’s something that all of our classmates, all of our peers have been struggling with for all these years.”

abby.zimmardi@thebaltimorebanner.com

Abby Zimmardi is a reporter covering Howard County for The Baltimore Banner. Zimmardi earned her master’s degree from the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism in December 2022.

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