James Curry

See also: Mary Edith Silvani

James Richard Curry was identified as the lead suspect in the murder of 34-year-old Mary Edith Silvani, whose body was found in Washoe County, Nevada. The case was cleared by exception due to the death of Curry.

Silvani’s body was found on July 17, 1982, by hikers on a popular trail near Incline Village, Lake Tahoe. She was wearing a bathing suit, a powder blue t-shirt, blue jeans and yellow tennis shoes. Her long hair was arranged in a bun. She had been sexually assaulted, and it appears as though she was shot in the back of the head while bending over to tie her shoe while getting dressed. She had likely been dead for less than 24 hours when she was found. She had received some unique and high-quality dental work, but she could not be identified. Because she was found near an area known as the ‘Sheep Flat’ she became known as the ‘Sheep’s Flat Jane Doe’.

A DNA profile was obtained from semen found at the crime scene, but over the years there were no hits in law enforcement databases. The FGG investigation was conducted by the DNA Doe Project as well as Identifinders, who identified both the victim and the killer in this case. This project was led by Colleen Fitzpatrick and involved more than 2,000 hours of research by her team. This investigation was an especial challenge because Curry had been born out of wedlock and raised under a different name. Curry’s living children provided the DNA samples that confirmed his DNA was consistent with that of the semen found at the Tahoe crime scene.

On February 3, 1983, Curry confessed to three murders in California: Gerald Novoselatz, his wife Sharon, and a man named Richard Lemmon. Sharon had been sexually assaulted, and her body was dumped off a highway. Police found Lemmon’s body in a storage locker where they were directed by Curry. Currey was arrested the next day, and the day after that he died by suicide in his jail cell.

Mary Edith Silvani was born on September 29, 1948, in Detroit, Michigan. Her fingerprints were on file from a misdemeanor arrest in 1974, which assisted in confirming her identity. She is buried alone at Our Mother of Sorrows Cemetery near Reno.


Associated Press. “Genealogy Site, DNA Help Solve Decades-Old Murder of Mary Silvani.” New York Post, May 8, 2019. Accessed December 13, 2020. https://nypost.com/2019/05/08/genealogy-site-dna-help-solve-decades-old-murder-of-mary-silvani/.

Find a Grave. “James Richard Curry.” Find a Grave. Memorial No. 119434705. Accessed December 13, 2020. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/119434705/james-richard-curry.

Hernández, Lauren. “Suspect in 37-Year-Old Unsolved Lake Tahoe Homicide Linked to Bay Area.” San Francisco Chronicle, May 8, 2019. Accessed December 13, 2020. https://www.sfchronicle.com/crime/article/Suspect-in-37-year-old-unsolved-Lake-Tahoe-13827776.php.

McGinness, Brett, Sam Gross, and Marcella Corona. “Sheep’s Flat Jane Doe: DNA Identifies Victim, Suspect in 1982 Killing.” Reno Gazette Journal, May 7, 2019. Accessed December 13, 2020. https://www.rgj.com/story/news/2019/05/07/sheeps-flat-jane-doe-sheriff-announce-major-breakthrough/1130650001/.

Reno Gazette Journal Archives. “Sheep’s Flat Jane Doe: What We Know.” Reno Gazette Journal, May 7, 2019. Accessed December 13, 2020. https://www.rgj.com/story/news/2019/05/06/sheep-flat-jane-doe-timeline-investigation/1123726001/.


First Name James
Last Name Curry
Other Names
Victims 1 (Details)
IGG Started nd
Case Cleared 2019-05-07
IGG Org DNA Doe; Identifinders


Case ID Name Age Case Opened Location Investigating Org Most Serious Charge Disposition Court
1194 Mary Silvani 34 1982-07-17 Washoe CO, NV Washoe CSO Second degree murder Case was cleared by exception due to death of perpetrator n/a

Last updated: February 9, 2024

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Case data and narrative licensed under CC BY 4.0: Dowdeswell, Tracey (2023), “Forensic Genetic Genealogy Project v. 2022”, Mendeley Data, V1, doi: 10.17632/jcycgvhm96.1. All other content, including photos, have been added.