Cold Case Murder Victim Identified After 37 Years

Playing Body of 'Buckskin Girl' Found Strangled in 1981 Identified Through DNA

Her name was Marcia L. King, but she was known only as "Buckskin Girl" — or simply Jane Doe — for 37 years.

King was found dead in Ohio in 1981 wearing jeans and a jacket that lent her the moniker that would stick for more than three decades.

It wasn't until just days ago — thanks to new DNA and genealogy technologies — that investigators learned her name.

“Law enforcement never forgets," Sheriff Dave Duchak said during the announcement.

Investigators in 1981 determined the victim had suffered blunt force trauma and been strangled before her killer ditched the woman's lifeless body in Miami County on a grisly April day.

At the time of her discovery, fingerprints were obtained and later entered into the FBI’s Automated Fingerprint Identification System but the identity remained a mystery, according to a statement from the Miami County Sheriff's Office

As years passed, identification methods improved. When DNA technology became available, the Miami Valley Regional Crime Lab generated the victim’s nuclear DNA profile in 2001.

In December 2008, the profile of “Buckskin Girl” was entered into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System.

In 2009, her mitochondrial DNA profile was developed and both the nuclear and mitochondrial genetic profiles were entered into the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System. 

But as the DNA drifted through these databases, it remained a piece of an unsolved puzzle until it landed at the DNA Doe Project, a recently created nonprofit organization that applies genetic genealogy tools to the identification of unknown persons.

The victim's DNA was obtained from a blood sample that had been in storage since 1981; it was processed using advanced DNA techniques, and uploaded to a public genealogy database. The Miami County Jane Doe case was accepted as one of the first cases for the project.

The DNA Doe Project relies on genetic genealogy tools similar to those used by genealogists for analyzing DNA results normally provided by direct-to-consumer testing companies like 23andMe.

Now that Marcia has been identified, police say they are a huge step closer to identifying the killer responsible for her untimely death. In the meantime, her family has asked for privacy in the wake of the news.

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