In May 1985, the Baker County Sheriff’s Office requested the GBI assist with an investigation into the discovery of a woman who had been found injured and unconscious by passersby on the west side of GA Highway 91 north of Newton, GA. The woman was found alive and then was taken to the hospital in Albany, GA, where she died from her injuries. The GBI Medical Examiner’s Office findings were the manner of death was undetermined and the cause of death was subdural hematoma secondary to blunt force trauma to the head.
In 2012, the woman was exhumed, and a sample of bone fragment was obtained. The bone fragment was sent to a private company for isotope analysis, but no leads were developed. The case was logged in Namus as UP11097.
In March 2022, the GBI Sylvester Regional Investigative Office partnered with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to have genealogical DNA analysis completed on the woman. A portion of her remains were submitted to Othram, a private DNA lab, that developed a DNA extract from the remains and used Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing® to develop a comprehensive DNA profile for the unknown woman. In October 2022, a DNA profile was successfully generated and passed to the FBI genealogy team for genealogical research. The research yielded a high probability that the unidentified woman was Mary Anga Cowan, aka “Angie”, missing out of Seminole County, Florida. Agents obtained DNA from one of Cowan’s children and the comparison confirmed a parent/child relationship.
GBI states that the assistance of the Baker County Sheriff’s Office, Othram, and the FBI Atlanta and Baltimore offices were instrumental in identifying these remains and providing closure for the family.
The services provided by Othram for this case were funded by the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs). NamUs is a national clearinghouse funded and administered by the National Institute of Justice and managed through a contract with RTI International that assists the criminal justice community with the investigation and resolution of missing, unidentified, and unclaimed persons cases across the United States and its territories. We are grateful to RTI, NamUs, and the NIJ for the support.