PAW PAW, Mich. (WOOD) - A breakthrough for many, genealogy testing unlocks decades of secrets.
Skeletal remains of a woman found thirty years ago by hunters in Michigan, finally has a name: Marcia Bateman, a 28-year-old from Oklahoma City.
“Fifteen to 20-year-old woman just don't go out by the roadside and die,” said Kent County Medical Examiner Dr. Stephen Cohle in an interview from 1988.
It has been a cold case since 1988.
“It is possible for example she was strangled. It is possible maybe her throat was cut. Possible she died from a drug overdose,” said Dr. Cohle.
For 30 years she has been a sketch. A forensic artist's creation. Not anymore. The secret hidden in Michigan woods is finally revealed.
“We did everything we could on those remains through the years,” said Michigan State Police Detective 1st Lt. Chuck Christensen.
And finally, a break. Working with the non-profit DNA Doe Project, investigators submitted a femur bone from the remains, running it through a DNA database of genealogy from people tracing their roots.
After 30 years it took just five weeks to get a match. Police confirming the results through additional testing of Bateman’s family members here in the metro, who filed a missing person’s report more than three decades ago in 1988.
“It sounds like she had a lifestyle in which she was living on the street a little bit and somewhat transient. So, the fact that we have somebody from Oklahoma City who made it up to Michigan could be explained in that way,” said Christensen.
State police have not yet determined if Bateman was murdered. But her ID of course is a critical step forward. And her family's peace of mind, priceless.
Bateman`s identification is just the beginning. Investigators plan to use genealogy to solve more cases. But some have concerns about police using the DNA profiles from websites that weren't created to solve crimes. Police say they are careful to protect the rights of potential suspects` relatives found through these sites.
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Editor's note (11/22/19): Article was updated with information from Michigan State Police that reveals victim's name is Marcia Kaylynn Bateman, not Maria Bateman. Video has not been updated.