One of New York’s biggest cold cases is a step closer to being solved – thanks to dogged detective work, and DNA from a 9/11 victim

One dogged New York City Detective says he has made a major break in a 20-year-old cold case and won’t stop until a killer is identified.
photo courtesy of NYPD

One of the NYPD’s oldest cold cases came together 21 years ago, on a frigid February morning in 2003, when construction workers digging through a Hell’s Kitchen basement were startled as a human skull rolled out before them.

Through genetic testing that included DNA comparisons to a victim of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center, police were able to identify the skull as that of a young woman killed back in 1969, nearly 35 years before her remains were uncovered in that cold basement.

The death of Patricia Kathleen McGlone has been under investigation for more than two decades now — but one dogged detective at the helm of the case believes they are now closer than ever to finding who killed her, and why.

McGlone’s skull rolled out while workers excavated 301 West 46th St. on Feb. 11, 2003, which had once been the location of a popular Hell’s Kitchen bar. Little did the workers know that they had stumbled upon one of the most incredible NYPD murder mysteries in the last half-century.

As the workmen chiseled away at the concrete basement floor in preparation for demolition, they made a horrifying discovery: a human skull rolled out of the ground. photo courtesy of NYPD
As the workmen chiseled away at the concrete basement floor in preparation for demolition, they made a horrifying discovery: a human skull rolled out of the ground.photo courtesy of NYPD

“Ultimately, they called the police and crime scene came in, they discovered her [other remains] wrapped in a carpet in the fetal position,” Detective Ryan Glas told amNewYork Metro. “She was hogtied with electrical cord in the fetal position.”

Detective Glas was assigned to the case less than two years ago, in November 2022 — almost 20 years after the remains were uncovered. Glas says the detectives who came before him worked tirelessly to discover as much about McGlone as possible, moving the investigation forward little by little.

At first, she became known as the Midtown Jane Doe, learning that the remains were that of a young female who had been strangled to death.

“Ultimately, they called the police and crime scene came in, they discovered her wrapped in a carpet in the fetal position,” detective Ryan Glas told amNewYork Metro. “She was hogtied with electrical cord in the fetal position.”photo courtesy of NYPD
Detective Glas came on the case in November 2022 almost twenty years after the remains were uncovered.photo courtesy of NYPD

Alongside the body, police discovered a ring with the initials “PMCG,” a dime minted in 1969, and a plastic toy soldier. These clues provided detectives with a possible timeframe of her murder, and a possible indication that McGlone may have been pregnant, or had a child previously before her death.

“With skeletal remains, I’d have to say that without the other stuff as a starting point, it would have been extremely difficult,” Glas noted. “There were very distinctive items there that definitely helped push the investigation along.”

Determined to identify the victim, police were able to painstakingly extract DNA from the skeleton — an incredible feat given that the bones had degraded from more than 35 years of burial.

The DNA was sent a genealogy database, which led to the next break in the case: identifying the remains as that of McGlone.

Upon further investigation, police learned that McGlone — whose name matched the initials on the ring found near her body — was 16 years of age in May 1969 when she dropped out of school. Obtaining her school records, Glas says they indicated that McGlone may have been pregnant at the time of dropping out, which could also explain why a toy soldier had been found near her body.

Little about McGlone’s life is known as of this point. Detectives learned that McGlone had a Catholic background, and lived with her mother in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Her father died in 1963, while her mother passed away in 1972, three years after Patricia’s mysterious death.

Detective Glas believes the bones tied by electrical cord was Patricia Kathleen McGlone, a 16-year-old girl who dropped out of school in May of 1969, and whose initials marked that of the “PMCG” ring originally found with her. 

With her mother seemingly believing that her daughter had run away, police also uncovered that she had gotten married, which her mother had signed off on at her tender age. However, police said that part of the investigation is still ongoing.

The location where McGlone’s body had been found was in the heart of Westies territory. From the mid-1960s to the late-1980s, the Westies — an Irish-American organized crime faction — operated in the neighborhood, dealing in racketeering, drug trafficking and contract killing.

Between 1968 and 1986, the FBI believes the gang — which never had more than 20 members at a time, but worked closely (and sometimes warred) with the mafia — was responsible for between 60 and 100 murders.

Still, it’s not known yet if McGlone’s murder is tied with the Westies.

9/11 victim helps confirm identity

A composite of Patricia Kathleen McGlone.Photo courtesy of NYPD

Glas said these findings came as a result of both new and old-fashioned police work. After conducting several interviews with a woman in her 90s, who recalled babysitting McGlone when she was still a newborn, police were pointed in the direction of a person who had submitted DNA following the 9/11 terror attacks.

That sample helped lead detectives to a victim of the attacks on the World Trade Center — who turned out to be a distant cousin of McGlone.

“That‘s the way she was ultimately identified,” Glas explained. “It was definitely astounding. It just helped bring the ball further down the field.”

Having identified McGlone’s remains, Glas noted, there’s one major question to answer: Who killed her? 

Despite over half a century having passed and the possibility that her killer may no longer be alive, Glas said that he won’t give up until justice is served.


Glas told amNewYork Metro that now the next step is discovering who killed her, something the detective says is imperative to bring justice to her.photo courtesy of NYPD

With the investigation only just heating up, Glas says he is looking for people who may have known her to come forward.

“I feel like we just scratched the surface of her,” Glas said. “We want anybody who remembers her, a friend, a classmate, or anybody just to give us further information.”

Anyone with information regarding the case can call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (for Spanish, dial 888-57-PISTA). You can also submit tips online at crimestoppers.nypdonline.org, or on X (the platform formerly known as Twitter) @NYPDTips. All calls and messages are kept confidential.