Dana Bradley was a 14-year-old girl who disappeared in St. John's, Newfoundland on 14 December 1981. She was last seen hitchhiking on Topsail Road in St. John's. Her body was discovered four days later in a wooded area south of St. John's. An intense and highly publicized investigation followed, and in 1986 a man confessed to her murder but later recanted. As of 2018, the case remains open and unsolved.
Bradley disappeared on the evening of 14 December 1981, 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.. An eyewitness reported seeing Bradley getting into a car with a male driver.
Bradley's body was found 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.The body was laid out in "burial fashion" with her schoolbooks tucked under her arm.
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. More than 800 cars were examined in the weeks following Bradley's disappearance. The initial task force was composed of 35 full-time investigators from the RCMP and the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary.
In 1986, David Grant Somerton was charged with Bradley's murder after confessing to police. However, he later recanted the confession, alleging that it had been coerced, and the murder charges against him were stayed. Somerton was later convicted of public mischief in relation to the false confession and sentenced to two years imprisonment. The investigation into Dana’s murder has been the most costly and extensive murder investigation in Canadian history.