RICHMOND, Ind. (AP) — Human remains found in rural Indiana in 1982 have been identified as those of a Wisconsin woman who was 20 when she vanished more than four decades ago, authorities said.
The remains are those of Connie Lorraine Christensen, who was from the Madison, Wisconsin-area community of Oregon, said Lauren Ogden, chief deputy coroner of the Wayne County Coroner's Office.
Hunters discovered Christensen's then-unidentified remains in December 1982 near Jacksonburg, a rural community about 60 miles (97 kilometers) east of Indianapolis, Ogden said. She had died from a gunshot wound and her homicide case remains unsolved.
Christensen was last seen in Nashville, Tennessee, in April 1982, when she was believed to have been three to four months pregnant, Ogden said. She had left her 1-year-old daughter with relatives while she was away and they reported her missing after she failed to return as planned to Wisconsin.
Christensen’s remains were stored at the University of Indianapolis' forensic anthropology department when the coroner's office partnered with the DNA Doe Project, a nonprofit that works to identify cold case victims, to try to identify them.
After Indiana State Police's forensic laboratory extracted DNA from them, forensic genetic genealogy determined that they closely match the DNA of two of Christensen’s relatives, Ogden said.
Coincidentally, at the same time that the identification efforts were underway, her family was working on creating an accurate family tree using ancestry and genealogy, Ogden said.
“Due to the fact that several of Connie’s living relatives had uploaded their DNA to an ancestry website, the genealogists at the DNA Doe Project were able to provide our office with the name of a candidate much more quickly than we expected,” she said.
Ogden said Christensen's now adult daughter was taken last Tuesday to the location where her mother's remains were found so she could leave flowers there. Authorities also gave her a gold ring set with an opal and two diamonds that was found with her mother’s remains.
Missy Koski, a member of the DNA Doe Project, said in a news release that she’s proud of the partners’ efforts that restored “Connie Christensen’s name after all this time.”