12 Investigates: Mattaponi River remains identified

Brenda Gee-Knight
Brenda Gee-Knight

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The mystery is over. We now know the identify of the skeletal remains found dumped in the Mattaponi River 12 years ago. You may remember, this was featured as an NBC12 investigation in November.

Brenda Gee-Knight grew up in Church Hill. She went to Armstrong High and was a well-known beautician. She was just 34 years old when she crossed paths with a killer, who left her body in the Mattaponi River.

A canoeist found her skeleton June 29, 2001, along the King and Queen County side of the river, near the route 628 bridge.

For 12 long years, her name and face were a secret.

"To think that somebody murdered her and then threw her in the water," said Zilphia Gee through tears. Brenda's death is still a shock to Gee. Her mother, thought maybe one day she'd see her daughter again. "I know they said skeleton remains. I haven't seen her. I wanted to because, I know it might be bad, but I just want to touch her, one last time," said Zilphia.

Her family says Brenda was last seen alive on November 22, 2000. That's a full seven months before her skeleton was found. Her sister dropped her off on Jeff Davis Highway near the Satellite restaurant.

At the time, Brenda was mixed up in drugs. She was prostituting.

"She was a good person. She was a good person. Just got tied up in the wrong things," said Zilphia.

Brenda grew up in a house on Broad Street in Church Hill. She went to Armstrong High. For a time, she even cut hair at Mr. Andrews in Carytown. She had three daughters. They were one, three and nine years old when Brenda was killed.

"I'm only 21, but I think about my sisters a lot, because they never really got the chance to know her at all. Somebody took her away from them. Somebody took, they never got to share anything with her," said Diamond Gee, Brenda's oldest daughter. Diamond is the reason her mother was found.

A year ago, she submitted her DNA to a missing person's database. At the same time, because of recent advances in science, the Medical Examiner's office was finally able to pull DNA from Brenda's bones. Just a few weeks ago, scientists tested the DNA and got a match to Diamond.

"For 12 years, all I wanted was closure. I now know that her body has been found and something really did happen to her. Maybe someone will come forward and that's what I really want to get out of it, somebody to come forward," said Diamond.

The family just found out police will let them take her remains. They are now struggling to come up with the money for a memorial service so they can finally bury her. Police will not allow them to cremate her remains.

If you know Brenda Gee-Knight, where she was 12 years ago, or can help in anyway - call VA State Police at (804)-553-3408. You can remain anonymous.

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