Identification of missing Iowa girl’s remains found by hunter in 1978

Detectives have successfully solved a cold case that had remained unsolved for decades. The case involved the identification of a body found in 1978, which has now been confirmed to be that of a missing Iowa teenager.

The police were able to gather only limited information about the discovered remains. They found a body wearing a cat’s eye ring and sporting a tattoo that seemed to spell out “Dee.” However, their attempts to identify the remains were unsuccessful. The individual was laid to rest under a headstone bearing the inscription “Lincoln County Jane Doe,” as reported by the authorities.

The details of the case were uploaded into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System in 2009.

In 2023, authorities made a significant breakthrough in the case, according to the police. After exhuming the buried remains, anthropology faculty and students from Southeast Missouri State University conducted analyses and determined that the body belonged to a teenager, rather than an initially estimated middle-aged woman. Samples from the remains were then sent to Othram, a private DNA laboratory, for DNA extraction. Using forensic-grade genome sequencing, the company was able to form a DNA profile from a small sample.

Othram’s genealogy team utilized genome sequencing to “uncover fresh leads” and create a “detailed genealogical profile,” as stated by the police. The Lincoln County Coroner’s Office reached out to someone who claimed to have a close relative fitting the description of the Jane Doe, who had gone missing in 1977. Subsequently, a familial reference sample was obtained.

After conducting tests, officials were able to confirm that the remains belonged to Helen Renee Groomes, a 15-year-old girl from Ottumwa, Iowa. This discovery provided closure for the family, as they were finally able to identify “Lincoln County Jane Doe” as their beloved family member.

“I was filled with joy when I found out that my sister’s remains had been identified,” said Kevin Groomes in an interview with local NBC News affiliate KSDK. He expressed his overwhelming emotions upon receiving this news. After the exhumation process, the remains were cremated.”

According to KSDK, he mentioned that his sister had a tattoo that said “Del” and he personally inked it. He explained that it was her boyfriend’s name back then.

Lincoln County Sheriff Rick Harrell expressed deep gratitude to SEMO, Othram, and the Lincoln County Coroner’s Office for their invaluable contributions. Their efforts were crucial in solving this long-standing mystery and providing closure to a grieving family.

The sheriff’s office stated that they are currently conducting an investigation into Groomes’ disappearance and subsequent death.

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MBS Staff
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