For nearly three decades, her name was unknown and her body was left unclaimed in California.
Across the country in Virginia, a family waited for answers as to what happened to their beloved daughter.
After 27 years, both mysteries have been solved as the Orange County Sheriff’s Department announced its Coroner’s Division has identified the victim of a 1990 vehicle crash as Andrea Kuiper, a 26-year-old woman whose family long wondered her fate.
Kuiper was killed after being struck by two cars while crossing the Pacific Coast Highway in Huntington Beach, Calif., on April 1, 1990, officials said.
Investigators and coroners worked diligently to identify the woman referred to as Jane Doe, appealing to the press and true crime television shows to share her story and image in an effort to give her her name back.
“But the woman’s identity continued to elude investigators,” the Sheriff’s Department said in a news release.
At the time of her death, Kuiper’s information was provided to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), which recreated images of what she would have looked like to circulate in the media.
And in 2010, officials used the newly-created National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) meant to aid in solving cases involving unidentified human remains to search for information on their Jane Doe, inputting her information in hopes there would be a hit.
“We never forgot her and would regularly pull out her file to see if we could think of anything new to try,” Supervising Deputy Coroner Kelly Keyes said. “The investigators at the Coroner’s Office never stopped trying to figure out who she was, just as they do with the more than 90 unidentified decedents that we have.”
This year, NamUs partnered with the FBI to more closely examine fingerprints of the unidentified deceased, and on May 4, the FBI told the sheriff’s department their Jane Doe’s prints had a match.
Kuiper, of Fairfax, Va., had gone to California when she was 26 years old.
“Andrea was loved and respected. She was beautiful. But she was manic depressive, and therefore we had been through quite an adventure,” her father, Richard Kuiper, said.
A few months before her death, the Kuipers heard their daughter was doing well from a friend who called to provide an update, ABC News reported.
It would be another 27 years before they would be given closure, but the news, however tragic, was welcome.
“We are thankful to know what happened to our daughter after all these years,” Richard Kuiper said.