Lincoln County Coroner's Office and Southeast Missouri State University Partner with Othram to Identify a 1978 Lincoln County Jane Doe

After nearly 50 years, a woman whose remains were found in the Mississippi River near Elsberry, Missouri, is to be identified using advanced DNA testing and forensic genetic genealogy.


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Published February 03, 2024 by Michael Vogen
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In March of 1978, a hunter spotted a body in the Mississippi River near Elsberry, Missouri. Lincoln County authorities responded to the scene and the individual’s remains were transported to the St. Louis County Medical Examiner for autopsy. It was determined that the remains were that of a white female whose cause of death was drowning. No signs of trauma were observed, and the woman’s manner of death was classified as undetermined.

The decedent was wearing a cat’s eye ring and she had a tattoo of the name “Dee” on her left forearm. Despite their extensive efforts, authorities were unable to identify the woman and her remains were interred in the Troy, Missouri city cemetery. In 2009, details of the case were entered into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) as #UP5295.

In November of 2023, Lincoln County Jane Doe’s remains were exhumed by the Lincoln County Coroner’s office with assistance from Southeast Missouri State University (SEMO) Anthropology faculty and students. The remains were brought to SEMO for updated anthropological analysis and sampling for specialized testing. Osteological and dental analysis revealed that Lincoln County Jane Doe was likely in her late teens when she died. The remains were poorly preserved, but under the supervision of Forensic Anthropologist Dr. Jennifer Bengtson, advanced SEMO anthropology and chemistry students applied chemical analyses and used published literature to choose the most promising samples for DNA extraction.

In 2024, Southeast Missouri State University teamed with Othram in the Woodlands, Texas to determine if advanced DNA testing could assist in finally identifying Lincoln Jane Doe. Othram will use Forensic-Grade Genomic Sequencing to build a comprehensive DNA profile which will be used by Othram’s in-house genealogy team to develop investigative leads to return to law enforcement. SEMO anthropology students will learn about records and archival research as they continue to search missing persons reports and historic newspaper records for more information in support of the investigation. Anyone with information that might aid in this investigation is encouraged to contact Lincoln County Coroner Dan Heavin at 636-528-8546, referencing case number A78-93 or NamUs ID #UP5295.

SEMO Anthropology has funded a portion of the costs associated with this case, but we need public support to complete funding for the case. You can help fund this DNASolves crowdfund here. We are grateful for your support.

The Lincoln County Coroner's Office and SEMO Anthropology previously partnered with Othram to identify homicide victim Jack Langeneckert, whose remains were identified in 2023, 38 years after their discovery in rural Lincoln County, Missouri.

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Michael Vogen

Michael Vogen

Director of Case Management

2829 Technology Forest Blvd Suite 100, The Woodlands, Texas 77381

Michael works with law enforcement agencies throughout the United States and Canada on “unsolvable“ cases that can benefit from advanced DNA testing methods. He helps these agencies use cutting edge DNA sequencing and new forensic techniques to develop investigative leads for their cases.

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About Othram Inc.

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 ... Read morerecovery, 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 to learn how we can help you with your case. With anyone can make a difference and help solve the next cold case.