Suffolk County Police Department & FBI Leverage Othram’s Forensic Sequencing Platform to Identify a 2015 Jane Doe

Nearly a decade ago, a woman whose remains were discovered by a hiker off of a bicycle path in Setauket, New York, has been identified as Lucie Van Heeckeren, born in July 1953.
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Published June 06, 2024 by Michael Vogen
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Summary

In March 2015, the skeletal remains of an unidentified individual were discovered by a hiker off of a bicycle path in Setauket, New York. Setauket is a community on the North Shore of Long Island. Investigators responded to the scene where they determined the remains had been there for about a year before the discovery was made. The Suffolk County Police Department transported the remains to the Medical Examiner, where it was determined that the remains were that of a white female who was 5’3” and 5’9” tall with poor dentition. The woman was between the ages of 30 and 50 years old.

At the time of the woman’s discovery, she was wearing a large broken purple hair clip that had come loose, holding together strands of her disheveled brown hair. She had on pink and black flip flops, incongruous with the rest of her attire. A gray and black scarf was draped around her neck, partially hidden by a black overcoat that offered little warmth against the chill. Beneath the coat, she wore a brown shirt layered under a blue sweater vest, and an additional black and purple checkered cloth segment wrapped around her midsection. Her lower half was clad in brown and black sweatpants, complementing a brown and black T-shirt, with knee-high pantyhose.

Details of the case were entered into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) as UP13776. A composite sketch was developed and released to the public in hopes that it would generate new leads about the woman's identity. Despite extensive efforts by law enforcement investigators to identify the woman, no matches were found, and the case went cold due to a lack of viable leads.

In February 2021, the Suffolk County Police Department, in collaboration with the FBI, submitted forensic evidence to Othram in The Woodlands, Texas in hopes that advanced DNA testing could help to identify the woman. Othram scientists used Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing® to build a comprehensive DNA profile for the woman. After successfully completing the process, the DNA profile was delivered to the FBI's forensic genetic genealogy team and the FBI team performed the necessary work to generate new investigative leads in the case.

Using this new information, a follow-up investigation was conducted leading investigators to potential relatives of the woman, who is now known to be Lucie Van Heeckeren, born July 1953. Van Heeckeren was last known to be in a hospital in Westchester County, New York. While Van Heeckeren’s cause of death could not be determined, foul play has not been ruled out. If you have any information regarding Lucie Van Heeckeren, please contact Lt. Kevin Beyrer with the Suffolk County Police Department by calling 631-852-6000.

The identification of Lucie Van Heeckeren represents the 8th case in the State of New York where officials have publicly identified an individual using technology developed by Othram. Most recently in Queens, New York, Anthony Scalici of Florida was identified and arrested 15 years after the murder of his uncle, Rosario Prestigiacomo.

Help fund another case Your contributions pay for lab supplies and research tools

Michael Vogen

Michael Vogen

Director of Case Management

2829 Technology Forest Blvd Suite 100, The Woodlands, Texas 77381
media@othram.com

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 Othram.com to learn how we can help you with your case. With dnasolves.com anyone can make a difference and help solve the next cold case.