11 25 DNA Exhumation

NEW BUFFALO — DNA testing will be used to help identify an “Jane Doe” whose body washed up on the New Buffalo breakwall in April of 1988.

New Buffalo Police Chief Rich Killips said an autopsy was conducted at the time, but the person (a woman between 40 and 60 years of age) could not be identified.

The cause of death was ruled a drowning.

Killips said DNA testing in such cases wasn’t used in 1988, but the Michigan State Police are now using that method in a campaign to identify Jane Doe cases throughout the state.

He said the body of the New Buffalo Jane Doe was exhumed on Nov. 9 (from Crystal Springs Cemetery in Benton Harbor) to get samples for the DNA testing. Participating were members of the Western Michigan University WMed Anthropology Department, State Police Human Remains Analyst Hannah Friedlander, and the Michigan State Police Bomb Squad.

Killips said the DNA test results take from six months to a year to get back. After that, the results can be compared with ancestral DNA to track down family and attempt to find out what actually happened.

He also said the police are seeking the public’s input if anybody knows anything about the case.

Anyone with information that can help identify New Buffalo Jane Doe should contact MSP Niles Post at 269-683-4411 or the New Buffalo Police Department at 269-469-1500.

According to a State Police release, the body recovered in New Buffalo belongs to a middle-aged female, approximately 5-feet, 5-iches in height and weighing around 175 pounds. She had brown hair and brown eyes. She is thought to have been wearing a wig or extensions (braided), which had been pulled from the scalp. At autopsy it was determined the female had a hysterectomy. There is a singular scar stretching from her pelvis to naval. No other scars, marks, or tattoos were present.

A forensic examination of her dental health indicated the overall presence of “excellent dentistry” including a porcelain bridge replacing a front tooth (a type of work was considered experimental at the time).

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