Decapitated woman’s head identified 30 years later

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New techniques linked to DNA have made it possible to show that a mother who disappeared in 1992 had not left her family: she was murdered.

Sarah Lund, 25, was taken out to shop on December 24, 1992. She was never seen again.

Redgrave Research Forensic Services

On January 27, 1993, two 10- and 12-year-old girls walked through Wayne Fitzgerell Park, located on the Lake Rend Peninsula in Illinois. They make a macabre discovery: a human head. Police will be able to determine that this is a woman, between 30 and 50 years old, with long red hair, a needle-shaped mole on her left ear, and that her death only goes back two to three days. But impossible to identify it. This will remain a mystery for 30 years.

Thanks to new breakthroughs in genetic genealogy, the identity of the one who had been called Ina Jane Doe (unknown corpse is named Jane or John Doe in the United States depending on whether she is a woman or a man) could be discovered. In early 2021, samples of the remains found in the country were at that time sent to a laboratory in California, which built a DNA profile that could be used for genealogical research, writes the “Washington Post”.

Profile found in one day

In February last year, a forensic genealogy firm, Redgrave Research Forensic Services, uploaded this profile to a genealogy database, which in a single day narrowed possible matches to … only one person: a missing woman. In 1992. Researchers were then able to obtain a DNA sample from a brother and sister of the alleged victim, which confirmed that the head found was actually of a woman named Sarah Lund.

The 25-year-old mother of three children aged 6, 4 and 2 had left her home in Clarksville, Tennessee, to go shopping. It was to be a short absence, December 24, Christmas Eve. We never saw her again. Her husband quickly reported her missing, but the search was abandoned after two weeks.

The man was thinking of kidnapping

According to the Clarcksvillenow.com website, Clarcksville police believed the young woman had disappeared of her own free will and that she had traveled to live in Kentucky, where she was seen the week after Christmas. Sarah’s husband, who was pregnant at the time of her disappearance, was convinced she had been kidnapped when she had taken her checkbook, but no check had been cashed. A few weeks later, he stated that someone had seen his wife at the roadside, in fact in Kentucky, and that she was wearing the same clothes as the day she disappeared.

Sarah’s siblings, who were first made aware of her disappearance four days after it happened, have never stopped looking for her. “I cried most of the day,” one of her sisters told Southern Illinoisan after hearing the news of Sarah’s identification. We had searched from time to time whenever we could, to find her. She was just very sweet, very uncritical and down to earth. Just a really nice person all the time and everyone really loved him. Then I got angry. Angry because she’s been there for 29 years. But we are relieved now ”.

Sarah’s head was therefore not discovered in Kentucky, but in Illinois, more than 3 hours away from her home. And if the analyzes made at the time were not erroneous, she would only have been murdered almost a month after her disappearance. What happened in the meantime, who killed and beheaded her? Police are not aware of it at the moment, but they will see: “We roll up our sleeves and start investigating again,” said Sheriff Jeff Bullard Sr.

Her children know she has not left them

Sarah’s siblings spoke on behalf of her three children: ‘They really want people to know how grateful they are to find out they were not abandoned by their mother. She did not leave her children, not of her own free will. For her six-year-old son at the time, it was very important that he understood that his mother was not leaving him.

New technologies in genetic genealogy bring almost weekly revelations about colds, most recently about the death of a young girl 62 years ago.

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