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UPDATED: King County detectives exhume remains of unidentified 1969 homicide victim

Post by Stacey Mulick / The News Tribune on Aug. 10, 2011 at 9:05 am |
August 10, 2011 1:11 pm
The crime scene from 1969/Courtesy of KCSO

The King County Sheriff’s Office has exhumed the remains of a young woman killed in 1969 in hopes of identifying her more than 42 years later and possibly finding her killer.

The remains were discovered on a dirt road June 5, 1969, about one mile west of the Tolt River Bridge near Carnation, the Sheriff’s Office said in a press release issued today. The victim’s body was nude and heavily decomposed.

Investigators couldn’t determine who she was and dubbed her “Tolt Hill Jane Doe.” They believe the woman was white, 23 to 25, 5 feet 1 to 5 feet 2 and 105 to 115 pounds. She had dark hair.

Investigators believed she’d died a few weeks to six months before she was found. The Medical Examiner’s Office wasn’t able to determine her cause of death but it has been investigated as a homicide.

The remains were buried in Mt. Pleasant Cemetery in Seattle.

Cold case detectives have been trying for two to three years to get the remains exhumed, sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. John Urquhart said today. They recently got a court order and exhumed the remains Friday.

“It’s not an easy process,” he said. He noted that the exhumation wasn’t related to the recent addition of serial killer Ted Bundy’s DNA to the federal DNA database. Bundy, a Tacoma native, admitted killing 30 women, including 11 in Washington. Only eight of the Washington victims were identified.

Sheriff’s detectives hope to get DNA from the remains so the profile can be entered into a database at the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification and then the FBI’s national DNA database. The university works with law enforcement agencies to identify human remains, the Sheriff’s Office said.

“The center, in collaboration with local law enforcement, also allows families with missing loved ones the opportunity to submit reference samples for DNA testing that could be matched with samples on file or that may come into the center at a later date,” the press release stated.

In recent years, the Sheriff’s Office has been asking family members of people who go missing under suspicious circumstances to submit their DNA for cases like the “Tolt River Jane Doe.” The University of Texas keeps family members DNA to compare to DNA from remains that are found and unidentified.

“That’s a huge step forward,” Urquhart said.

Cold case detectives also wonder if the case is related to the discovery of part of a young woman’s skull in 2006. The skull was located about three city blocks from where “Tolt Hill Jane Doe” was found.

“The remains had been exposed to the elements for a significant period of time,” the press release said.

That victim also has never been identified.

The Sheriff’s Office asks anyone with information on the cold cases to call 206-296-3311.

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