COLUMBIA, S.C. — A man and woman found shot to death just off Interstate 95 in South Carolina have been identified by DNA after more than 44 years.

The victims are 30-year-old James Paul Freund of Lancaster, Pennsylvania; and 25-year-old Pamela Mae Buckley of Colorado Springs, Colorado. Both had been reported missing by their families.

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Authorities are still trying to figure out their relationship.

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Investigators say they were both shot several times with the same gun in August 1976. They were buried as Jane and John Does and in 2007 their bodies were exhumed and DNA was collected, according to the Sumter County Sheriff's Office, which held a press conference Thursday. 

In June 2019, that DNA was sent to The DNA Doe Project, a nonprofit that works to identify deceased persons using forensic genealogy. The nonprofit was ultimately able to identify Buckley and Freund.

Sumter resident Jean Graham told the local NBC station that her father, former Sumter County Sheriff Ira Byrd Parnell, dedicated much of his life to solving the case.

“He had such a tender heart, and he cared about people,” Graham said. “I know it bothered him that they couldn’t identify these people.”

Authorities say they hope the identities and photos either jog a memory or prod a guilty conscience to come forward so they can find the killer. The homicide investigation into their death is still open and active.

Anyone with information can contact the Sumter County Sheriff's Office or their Crime Stoppers at 1-888-274-6372 or 

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