, 2022-05-11 15:25:00,
July 7, 1994, rural Montrose County. Aug. 9, 1993, Lakewood, Washington.
The dates and states are far removed, but they have proven inextricably linked: the first is the day hikers found a woman’s skull on Windy Point. The second is when a 45-year-old woman was last reported alive to Washington authorities. It is now known the dates involve the same person, a woman known here for almost three decades as Windy Point Jane Doe, but who now has her true identity back.
Her name was Susan Hoppes.
Cause of death: Undetermined.
Manner of death: Undetermined, but circumstances point to homicide.
Forensic genetic genealogy, which did not exist in 1994, finally linked Montrose County’s unidentified body with a petite, dark-haired Washington State woman, who reportedly left her home in the middle of one August night.
“This is a classic piece of police work,” said Montrose County Coroner Dr. Thomas Canfield, who formally confirmed the identity Wednesday, May 11, almost 28 years after Hoppes’ remains were found. “You just keep digging and digging and digging.”
After many years of work by many hands, Montrose County Sheriff’s Office investigators got their match through a DNA sample the Colorado Bureau of Investigation prepared for a commercial DNA database, where samples from Hoppes’ brother and sister had also been uploaded.
Although the process is far from simple and does not necessarily produce instant results, the match for Hoppes was made less than two years after Sheriff Gene Lillard green-lighted sending the remains for familial DNA testing.
Hoppes’ identification was confirmed April 19 and Canfield then notified her surviving…
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