Benton County Coroner’s Office Teams with Othram to Identify a 1986 Jane Doe

After nearly four decades, a woman whose remains were discovered in the Columbia River in Benton County, Washington, has been identified as Patricia Kay Ereth, born December 12, 1949.

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Published June 12 by Michael Vogen
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In September 1986, the remains of an unidentified individual were discovered in the Columbia River by the Pioneer Memorial Bridge, also known as the Blue Bridge, which connects Pasco, Washington to Kennewick, Washington. After discovery, an autopsy was performed by the Benton County Coroner’s Office’s Office. It was determined that the remains were that of a white female who was between the ages of 28 to 35 years at her time of death. No identifying information for the woman could be determined. Despite extensive efforts by law enforcement investigators to identify the woman, the case went cold due to a lack of viable leads. The woman was buried as a Jane Doe at Resthaven Cemetery in Richland, Washington.

In September 2023, the Benton County Coroner’s Office exhumed Jane Doe’s remains in hopes that advanced DNA testing could help to identify the woman. After completing the exhumation process, skeletal evidence was prepared for transport to Othram by the Benton County Coroner’s Office. Upon receipt of the evidence at Othram in the Woodlands, Texas, Othram scientists developed a DNA extract from the evidence, then used Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing® to build a comprehensive DNA profile for the unknown woman. Othram’s in-house forensic genetic genealogy team then used this profile to conduct genealogy research, ultimately providing new investigative leads to law enforcement.

Using this new information, a follow-up investigation was conducted leading investigators to potential relatives of the woman. Reference DNA samples were collected from a potential relative and compared to the DNA profile of the unknown woman. This investigation led to the positive identification of the woman, who is now known to be Patricia Kay Ereth, born December 12, 1949. Ereth was known to be missing from the Yakima, Washington area since the early 1980’s.

The identification of Patricia Kay Ereth represents the 29th case in the State of Washington where officials have publicly identified an individual using technology developed by Othram. Most recently Pierre Antonio Pearson, whose remains were found in the Columbia River in Woodland, Washington, was identified after 2 years.

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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.