It has been 52 years since Anita Louise Piteau went missing, but thanks to advancements in DNA technology, her family finally has some answers. Authorities linked Piteau, who was 26 at the time of her disappearance, to a Jane Doe discovered in California around the same time she went missing.
Her family last heard from her in February 1968, in a letter in which she declared she had just found work as a waitress in California – where she had been for nearly a year before – but would come home in May of that same year.
But when they didn’t receive another letter for several months, family members feared the worst.
“We had a sense that she had probably been killed but no idea how that would have happened,” her niece 60-year-old Laurie Quirion said, according to the Associated Press.
Meanwhile, three boys came across her body on a farm in Huntington Beach, California. She had been raped and severely beaten, and her neck was slashed.
Police at the time were unable to identify the body nor any suspects despite a cigarette butt being found on the scene, and the case became cold.
The body was ultimately buried in an unmarked grave in Newport beach, and eventually became Orange County’s oldest Jane Doe.
But more details were uncovered as evidence was processed with new technology over the years, and authorities identified a possible suspect in the case last year: Johnny Chrisco, who is also no longer alive.
Chrisco was not one of the original suspects. He was discharged from the army for “a pattern of being quick to anger, easy to feel unjustly treated, chronically resentful, immature and impulsive,” according to a statement. He died of cancer in 2015.
“Although the suspect was no longer alive to face the consequences, providing the family with the information of what happened to Anita and allowing them to properly lay her to rest is of tremendous importance,” Handy said.
Piteau’s remains were brought back to Maine, and her family had a memorial service last weekend. She had six siblings, including two living sisters and a brother who have been searching for her all these years.