Thirty years after her discovery, advanced DNA testing is being used to identify McDonald County's only unidentified person
Funding completeRaised 100% of goal
THE WOODLANDS, Texas October 22, 2020
In December 1990, a couple walking on a rural road in Southwest Missouri discovered the decomposed remains of a young woman. She had been hog-tied and was dumped next to an abandoned farmhouse. The deceased woman was nicknamed "Grace Doe".
Her autopsy revealed that she had been sexually assaulted and murdered approximately two months prior to her discovery. Grace Doe was found restrained with six different types of bindings: nylon and lead ropes, coaxial and telephone cables, paracord, and clothesline. Investigators determined that the paracord was military grade MIL-C-5040H type II - a rope that was exclusively sold to the military in the 1990’s. All available leads were pursued but ultimately the case went cold.
Grace Doe is described as of White or Native American descent, 21-31 years old, standing 5’1’’- 5’4’’ tall and weighing around 120 pounds. She had shoulder length, dark auburn hair. She was wearing a denim jacket with a white t-shirt, “Lee” brand blue jeans, and white high-top tennis shoes.
While investigators initially thought that Grace Doe and her abductor were from the area, they now believe that this might not be the case. Grace had extensive dental work that was not typical for the rural county of McDonald in the 1990’s, leading them to believe she was from a larger city in the four-state area. As Oscar Talley Road is located less than a mile from busy Interstate 49, authorities contend that Grace Doe was abducted elsewhere and dumped on the rural dirt road. She remains McDonald County’s only unidentified body.
The McDonald County Sheriff’s Office has partnered with Othram to use advanced DNA testing and forensic genealogy to establish an identification of, or to find the closest living relatives to the decedent. Additionally, thanks to generous gifts from donors who support experiential learning opportunities for Southeast Missouri State University students, the University Foundation has contributed $3000 toward funding the identification of Grace Doe. Special thanks to Dr. Jennifer Bengtson and her team of students that will provide support on the case.
Anyone with information that could aid the investigation is encouraged to contact the McDonald County Sheriff’s Office at (417) 223-4319. A fund has been established to cover the costs of testing for this case. This case is logged in NamUs as UP5321.
Othram is the world’s first private DNA laboratory built specifically to apply the power of modern parallel sequencing to forensic evidence. Othram’s scientists are experts at recovery, enrichment, and analysis of human DNA from trace quantities of degraded or contaminated materials. Founded in 2018, and located in The Woodlands, Texas, our team works with academic researchers, forensic scientists, medical examiners, and law enforcement agencies to achieve results when other approaches have failed. Follow Othram on Twitter @OthramTech or visit Othram.com to learn how we can help you with your case. Visit dnasolves.com to learn how anyone can make a difference in helping solve the next cold case.
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