King County Medical Examiner's Office Teams with Othram to Solve the Mystery of "Mary Anderson"

Almost 25 years ago, a woman, who remains unidentified to this day, checked into a Seattle hotel under an assumed name and took her own life
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Published May 04, 2021 by Michael Vogen
Media Inquiries


In Fall 1996, a woman checked into an upscale hotel in downtown Seattle, paid cash, and registered under the name, Mary Anderson. She provided a false number with a NY area code and a false address that featured a NY zip code. Once she checked in, she went to room and reportedly had no further contact with hotel staff or room service. No calls were made from the room. She was eventually discovered when she failed to check out of the room. She was discovered lying on her back, on her bed, with a suicide note mentioning that she had no family and that she did not care what was done with her body. The cause of death was determined to be cyanide poisoning.

There were few clues left at the scene. She had no identifying documents, she paid for the room in cash, and there is speculation she might have removed her dental plate to further obstruct efforts to identify her. Investigators searched databases using dental records and fingerprints. There were no matches. A DNA profile was developed for "Mary Anderson" and searched in the CODIS database, but there were no matches. Local and national media appeals, as well as multiple forensic facial reconstructions have failed, so far, to provide leads.

In 2021, King County Medical Examiner'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 unknown woman. Funds to support the case are being raised on the DNASolves Crowdfunding platform. The case is also logged in NamUs as #UP12916.

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


Advanced DNA testing suggests a Middle Eastern background for Mary Anderson

November 10, 2023

We need your help in solving the mystery of "Mary Anderson," who tragically passed away in a Seattle hotel in 1996 under a false identity. Traditional methods, such as dental records, fingerprints, and media appeals, have proven futile in unlocking her identity.

What we know: "Mary Anderson" registered under a false name, leaving no trace of her real identity. Advanced DNA testing suggests her biogeographical origins trace back to Eastern Iran or Afghanistan, possibly with a Persian background.

How you can help: The case, identified as #UP12916 in NamUs, awaits closure. Your DNA profile could be the missing link in uncovering her identity. Even distant relations might offer vital clues. By uploading your data to genealogy databases, you contribute significantly to solving this case. You can upload to the DNASolves database here.

If you have any other information that you think might aid this investigation, please reach out to law enforcement, or contact us at

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.