READING, Pa. -- Two bodies from an eastern Pennsylvania graveyard have been identified through DNA evidence as related teen girls who ran away from Philadelphia and disappeared in 1968, authorities said Friday.
The Reading Eagle reported that the deaths of Sandy Stiver, 14, and her sister-in-law Martha Stiver, 17, are being investigated as homicides and police are asking the public for leads.
"Since I was 9 years old my dad kept going to the Philadelphia Police station once a year from Cleveland to try to find out what we could find," said Sandy's sister, Hazel Stiver, of Richfield, Ohio.
Genetic material was recovered from their unmarked graves just outside Reading in October after a family member suspected they may be the Stiver girls.
Officials said the two disappeared after running away from home in Philadelphia. Sandy's body was found in August 1968 about 20 feet off a roadway and had been shot several times with a .22-caliber weapon.
Martha's remains were recovered less than a year later on a large rock in French Creek State Park in Elverson. Her cause of death has not been established.
The paper said that in 2000, Hazel Stiver came across information about two unidentified murder victims on the Doe Network website and pushed for authorities to check into it.
Trooper Robert Hess said at a news conference in Reading that the DNA results mean "this investigation is like brand new now," the paper reported. "We've got a lot of work to do, a lot of people to talk to."
The coroner's office is working with both families to determine how to transfer the remains. Hazel Stiver told the paper they plan to hold a proper funeral.