St.John's, Newfoundland - Over 40 years ago, December 14, 1981, Bradley disappeared while hitchhiking on Topsail Road in St. John's. She had been at a friend's home after school and was on her way home to a family birthday party. When she did not arrive, the family reported her missing to the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary.
Dale Smith, who had been looking for a Christmas tree in the woods found Bradley's body in a wooded area on the Maddox Cove Road south of St. John's four days after she disappeared.
Her skull had been fractured by a blunt object and she had been sexually assaulted.
An eyewitness reported seeing Bradley getting into a car with a male driver.
Robert (a pseudonym being used to protect the man’s identity) said he saw the man stopping to pick up Dana, who was hitchhiking east on Topsail Road. He took his story to the RCMP in December 2011, since the site of the murder was in their jurisdiction at the time. An investigation ensued around the anniversary of the murder, a time when the RCMP commonly receives new tips.
Robert says the RCMP first met with him on Dec. 14, 2011 — the 30th anniversary of Dana's murder.
According to an RCMP document, the investigation into Robert’s tip continued for 16 months.
The RCMP subsequently informed Robert that none of the avenues related to his tip provided any new evidence to support criminal charges.
The subsequent investigation has been described as (then) "the most expensive and exhaustive murder investigation in Canadian history". Hundreds of people were interviewed; thousands of tips were received and investigated.
In 1986, Mount Pearl resident David Somerton confessed to the crime. He later recanted and the charges were stayed.
Somerton was later convicted of public mischief in relation to the false confession and sentenced to two years imprisonment.
In May 2016, the RCMP announced that they had uncovered new DNA evidence in the Bradley case. Retesting of a sample recovered in 1981 connected the murder to an unknown male subject.
"This new DNA evidence is a breakthrough for the investigation," said Insp. Pat Cahill, the officer in charge of the RCMP's Major Crime Unit.
"Our investigators are using the DNA to eliminate suspects and continue to clear tips received from the public."
The new DNA evidence was used to rule out existing suspects, including the man alleged to be the murderer in connection with the private excavation of the two vehicles that month.
As of 2021, the case remains open and unsolved.
Anyone with information on Bradley's death is urged to come forward to police.