Authorities announced they have identified the body of a woman through DNA matching technology 40 years to the day after the body was initially found in southern Missouri.
The Pulaski County Sheriff’s department released a statement on Facebook that said the body of a woman found in a low river crossing May 25, 1981 was identified as Karen Kay Knippers.
Because Knippers was unable to be identified after her death, which was then being investigated as a homicide, she was buried as a “Jane Doe” in the Waynesville Cemetery, the release said.
The case was reopened in 2012, the same year Knippers’ information was entered into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System by Missouri Highway Patrol, according to the release.
The Jane Doe body was exhumed three years later in 2015, and a sample of her DNA was taken by the University of North Texas and the University of South Florida, the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department said in the post. The researchers then submitted the DNA sample to the DNA Doe Project in California.
The DNA Doe Project uses technology that can identify “John” or “Jane Does” by examining genetic materials from suspected relatives, according to the sheriff’s department. (RELATED: Coke Can Turns Out To Be The Key In 40-Year-Old Murder Cold Case In Colorado)
In 2019, the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department identified a potential relative of Knippers. Her suspected brother, a man living in Alexandria, Virginia, claimed to have lost contact with his sister in the 1980s when authorities contacted him in 2020. He subsequently provided a DNA sample that matched Knippers.
“Bottom Line: We now know the name of Pulaski County (Dixon) Jane Doe is Karen Kay Knippers,” the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department said in their release.