Body exhumed in hopes of a cold case breakthrough

Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Law enforcement officials are trying to gather more evidence in the unsolved murder of Lisa McBride, a 27-year-old Highland Lakes, N.J., woman found dead in the woods of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area 32 years ago.

| 06 Apr 2022 | 03:30

The remains of Lisa McBride, a Highland Lakes woman found dead in the woods 32 years ago, the victim of a homicide, were exhumed from Restland Memorial Park in East Hanover, N.J., to gather more evidence in the case.

The March 9 exhumation was led by the Sussex County Prosecutor’s Office, with the assistance of the New Jersey State Police and the Vernon Township Police Department. The remains were transported to Par-Troy Funeral Home in Parsippany, N.J., and then to the Morris-Sussex Medical Examiner’s Office.

At the Medical Examiner’s Office, the Sussex County Medical Examiner and a New Jersey State Police Anthropologist performed an examination and collected relevant evidence. On March 10, detectives delivered that evidence to a forensic laboratory in Lorton, Virginia.

McBride was reinterned at Restland shortly after the examination. The exhumation and reinternment process complied with a previously obtained court order.

McBride was 27 years old when she was reported missing on June 23, 1990. Her skeletal remains were found on Oct. 20, 1990.

The following is a brief summary of her disappearance and the discovery of her remains:

June 22, 1990

McBride completed work at Lakeland Bank in Newfoundland, N.J. That evening, she made arrangements to attend a concert in New York City with friends. Following the concert, the four friends traveled from New York City to Big John’s Pub, located on Old Route 23 in Newfoundland. They arrived at approximately 12:30 a.m.

While at the pub, witnesses reported that McBride consumed three bottles of beer, talked to several people, and reportedly gave three old friends her telephone number.

Prior to leaving at 1:15 a.m., McBride had commented that she had to depart since she had to work the following morning. She arrived home at approximately 1:55 a.m. on Saturday, June 23. Neighbors observed her entering her driveway, exiting her vehicle, and walking into her residence.

The neighbors stated they observed McBride enter her home at approximately 2 a.m. This was the last reported sighting of the victim.

June 23, 1990

At approximately 7:30 a.m., one of McBride’s coworkers at Lakeland attempted to call the victim. The coworker called several times but received no answer. The coworker became concerned and notified the victim’s brother, Douglas McBride.

Douglas McBride got dressed and drove to Lisa McBride’s home at approximately 10 a.m. He noticed that her car was in the driveway and assumed she had merely obtained a ride from someone. He walked up to the porch and used a spare key, which she kept under the steps, to enter the residence.

As he entered, Douglas McBride called his sister’s name but received no response. He observed that the light on the bedroom dresser was on, and that there were no sheets or blankets on the bed. He also noticed that the living room couch was pulled approximately six inches away from the wall. In addition, the kitchen light, which was near the refrigerator, was also on. Douglas McBride looked throughout the house and failed to locate his sister.

The Vernon Police Department was notified and responded. A subsequent check of the residence revealed the telephone wire had been cut from outside the home. Also, a window screen was observed to have two slits, which would have enabled someone to reach in and gain access into the house.

An intensive joint investigation, involving local, state and federal authorities, was initiated.

October 20, 1990

At approximately 9:30 a.m., a hunter in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area located the skeletal remains of a female. The remains were located in a wooded area off the Old Mine Road in Sandyston Township, N.J.

The hunter reported his discovery to the National Park Service police, who contacted the New Jersey State Police, Sussex Station, and the Sussex County Prosecutor’s Office. Detectives from the New Jersey State Police Major Crime Unit, Troop “B” Criminal Investigations Office, and Sussex County Prosecutor’s Office initiated an investigation.

Once the remains were removed, an autopsy was performed. A dental examination was performed, and the victim was subsequently identified as Lisa Marie McBride. She was a missing female last seen entering her home in Highland Lakes at approximately 2 a.m. on June 23, 1990.

November 7, 1990

The remains of Lisa McBride were transported to the New Jersey State Medical Examiner’s Office in Newark for further examination and anthropological studies, to estimate the time of death as well as the cause of death.

When found, the victim’s body was almost completely skeletonized. McBride’s left cheekbone was fractured from what was believed to be blunt force trauma.

This investigation is being conducted jointly by the Sussex County Prosecutor’s Office, Major Crimes Unit, the New Jersey State Police Cold Case Unit, the New Jersey State Police Crime Scene Unit, the New Jersey State Police Forensic Anthropology Unit, the New Jersey State Police, Augusta Barracks and the Vernon Township Police Department.

If anyone has relevant information about the disappearance of Lisa McBride, call Lt. Nicholas Elmo at the Sussex County Prosecutor’s Office, 973-383-1570.