Trail To The Truth: Chovonne Dolberry

CAMBRIDGE, Md. – In 2003,  a horrific murder, loomed over the town of Cambridge, Maryland.

In our special series, Trail To The Truth, we investigate the murder of Chovonne Dolberry with hopes of revealing her killer.

“I was on my way going to school and she was trying to flag me down and I told her ‘I’ll catch you when I get out of class’ because I was running late, and I never saw her again after that.”

Aloma Cornish remembers the moment like it was yesterday.

A rushed goodbye to her sister, that would turn into years of heartbreak.

Where It All Began

It was the evening of October 17th 2003, when the phone rang at the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office.                                                                                Detectives responded to a call in a field off Handley Road.                                                                                                                                                                                  What they we’re expecting when arriving… was a fire.                                                                                                                                                                                          What they actually saw… was something that would stain their memory for a lifetime.

“One of the county workers found it. At first they thought it was a mannequin, because they burned trash there all the time. Then he got close to it and realized this might be a real body,” Sgt. Enrique Hernandez, the detective working the case at the time.

It Wasn’t a Mannequin

It was a body, burnt beyond recognition.
Only a few scorched parts still resembled a human. An exposed ribcage, pony tail, and jewelry.

“At that time we had no idea who this subject was, at all,” said Sgt. Hernandez.

Two days later, the recovery of a single fingerprint answered that question… and “Jane Doe” was identified as 32-year-old Chovonne Dolberry.

“That day I had seen something come up on the news and it said a woman had been murdered from Dorchester County and she had the same last name as my mom.”

Seeing the worry on family members faces… as the phone rang off the hook… Chovonne’s daughter,  Sabrina, who was 11 at the time – eventually put the pieces together.

“It was heartbreaking, that literally crushed me,” cried Sabrina Waters.

Who Was Chovonne Dolberry?

Growing up, Sabrina told me, her relationship with her mom was far from perfect.
Her father, had full custody by the age of 3 after Chovonne had a run in with drugs.
While trying to get clean, she didn’t have a permanent place to call home… but you could often finding her riding her bike around town.

“That was one of the last places she was seen, was riding in town and as we began to do interviews we realized it was going to be a lot of people we needed to be talking to,” explained Sgt. Hernandez.

But the more people who talked, the more the timeline of her disappearance didn’t add up, especially with her history of drug use.

“You know the streets, they talk. So you hear a lot of rumors of this and a lot of rumors of that and you don’t know what to believe,” said Chovonne’s Sister, Aloma Cornish.

At one point… Sgt. Hernandez requested surveillance footage from a gas station across the street.
His thoughts…  in order to set her body on fire, someone must’ve grabbed a canister of gas beforehand.
The recovered footage was grainy and while they spotted her in the video… it wasn’t enough to pin point the timing of her last location.

“One given day I remember counting 18 detectives here working on this case. We went from 12-18 hours a day, working on that particular case,” said Sgt. Hernandez.

Empty Leads And Heartbroken Family Members

As the months turned colder — so did the case.
By December, only a few detectives were left chasing leads.

“It’s been 18 years, we would like some type of closure. I don’t want to go another 18 years still trying to fight to find my sister’s killer,” cried Cornish.

“I went through a lot of emotions, a lot of hurt, a lot of pain growing up at the expense of someone else’s decision,” said Waters.

It wasn’t just family who carried the weight of Chovonne’s death.
As Detective Hernandez and I returned to the crime scene, he told me it was hard to look at the freshly grown grass… that once held her remains.
A sight and smell — he could never erase.

“It’s still there, it’s still there, I can see it like it was yesterday. It’s something you don’t forget,” said Sgt. Hernandez.

According to police — the area where Chovonne’s body was found– was often used to burn trash following Hurricane Isabel.
It wasn’t uncommon to see flames sparking at all hours.
So that leaves one question.
Did that mean her killer knew it would be the perfect place to get rid of her body?

“So only a person with knowledge of that at the time to me, would know to take a body out there to try and cover it up. So to me, that’s a little suspicious,” explained Cornish.

“It’s possible that she might’ve been killed somewhere else and brought there to try and dispose of the body,” said Sgt. Hernandez.

But those — are just ideas — in a string of “what ifs”

Carrying the Weight of Her Murder

“I can’t even express what I felt not being able to solve that crime that day or that particular time. But it was something that’s going to haunt me for the rest of my life,” explained Sgt. Hernandez.

And for a family… that’s grown distant over the years and moved away… they remain tied together by trauma — searching for the t

rail to the truth.

“If we found out who did it, my next question is why? Why? She didn’t deserve that. We didn’t deserve that,” cried Waters.

“She was brutally killed, she wasn’t just killed, she was brutally killed,” said Cornish. “And I don’t think that I’ll ever let it go until they have been caught. I’ll do everything my power until my last breath.”


As a reminder it’s never to late to speak up and call in a tip. If you know something about Chovonne’s murder you’re asked to call the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office at (410)-228-4141.

Categories: Crime, Local News, Maryland