Abilene woman identified as murder victim in 40-year-old "orange socks" case

After four decades, the woman strangled and left behind along I-35, wearing nothing but "orange socks" has been identified. Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody said an updated forensic sketch of unidentified victim was the key.

After releasing the new sketch in June, a woman gave the Williamson County Sheriff's Office a call.

"She saw the new forensics image of “orange socks” on the news and believed that orange socks may have been her missing sister identified as 23-year-old Debra Jackson," Chody said.

A break in the case

WCSO's Cold Case Unit met with the Jackson family and were able to confirm physical similarities, like scars on Jackson’s legs. Jackson's family told investigators the scars came from insect bites she received as a child.

DNA proved to be the answer both Jackson’s family and the sheriff's office was looking for.

The DNA Doe Project, a nonprofit that assists in identifying deceased people using forensic genealogy, took a swab of a relative’s saliva and it confirmed “Orange Socks” was Debra Jackson.

Last seen

Debra Jackson was never reported as a missing person. According to the sheriff's office, she was last seen leaving her home in Abilene in 1977.

In 1978, she worked at a Ramada Inn in Amarillo. In the same year she worked for an assisted living company in Azle, the last place she was heard of being. In 1979 Jackson was found murdered in Williamson County.

Knowing where Jackson has been helps widen the team's search for more evidence, more witnesses and over time, a possible suspect. Chody said there is still DNA evidence the team is working on.

"In October of 2018 orange socks lab results returned with a male DNA which was developed through finger nail clippings," Sheriff Chody said. "We are in the beginning stages of the investigation but we are that much further than we were two years ago in this case so it's a great opportunity for us it's really early we are not really far yet but we are certainly hopeful."

Anyone with information regarding this case is asked to call (512) 943-1300.

Cold Case Unit Timeline 

June 2019

  • New sketch of “Orange Socks” released.
  • A woman contacts the sheriff’s office and tells investigators it looks like her missing sister Debra Jackson, 23, of Abilene.

July 2019

  • Jackson’s family meet with investigators.
  • DNA sample was taken from a relative for genealogy testing.
  • Jackson’s social security information was obtained and investigators found no earnings reported since 1979.
  • Further DNA obtained from two additional relatives, and samples return inconclusive.
  • Cold Case Unit works with the Doe Project to continue analyzing DNA.

August 2019

  • DNA results returned and genealogy confirmed “Orange Socks” and relatives of the Jackson family are related.