A cold case in California has been reopened on the strength of DNA testing, and investigators believe they may have finally found some relevant information about a long-dead woman’s identity.
A so-called Jane Doe was shot and killed sometime in 1985. Two hunters found her significantly decomposing body in the Newark Wetlands and alerted law enforcement. The Newark Police Department said her body was hardly recognizable by the time she was found.
“Unfortunately, nobody knows or knew that Jane Doe existed,” NPD Detective Todd Nobbe told Oakland, Calif. Fox affiliate KTVU journalist Brooks Jarosz. “There was no identification, no purse found, nothing that would immediately give us a name.”
But nearly four decades later, the still-unidentified and nameless woman’s half-sister appears to have been located in Texas.
Nobbe reopened the case a few years ago. One of the first steps he took, he told KTVU, was having Santa Cruz, Calif.-based genetics company Astrea Forensics test a small clump of rootless hair that was taken from the deceased woman’s corpse and kept in storage.
“Astrea’s proprietary methods make it possible to recover genetic profiles from rootless hair and other highly degraded samples that otherwise fail traditional forensic DNA testing,” the company says on its website – which also identifies their reason for existing as to help solve cold cases and “determine the identify of unknown individuals.”
The NPD teamed up with the DNA Doe Project, a nonprofit that specializes in building and using genetic profiles to help law enforcement identify unknown and deceased individuals and “solve their most intractable cases,” their website says.
The group also has a grant program that they say specifically aims to help “smaller and less-well-funded agencies.”