Authorities say the remains of a woman wearing high heels and a gold ring found dead in rural Indiana in 1982 are those of a 20-year-old Wisconsin woman who disappeared four decades earlier.
The remains are of Connie Lorraine Christensen of the Madison, Wisconsin, Oregon community, said Lauren Ogden, chief deputy coroner for the Wayne County Coroner’s Office.
Hunters found Christensen’s unidentified remains in December 1982 near Jacksonburg, a rural community about 60 miles east of Indianapolis, Ogden said. He died of a gunshot wound, and the case of his murder remains unsolved.
As stated therein The DNA Do project, a nonprofit that works to identify people with colds, said the woman’s clothes “didn’t indicate she was out for a walk.” When she was found, the woman was wearing high-heeled wooden clogs, a blue, long-sleeved button-up blouse, gray slacks, long knitted socks and a blue nylon jacket, the group said. According to the DNA Doe Project, she also wore a gold ring with an opal and two diamonds.
Christensen was last seen in April 1982 in Nashville, Tennessee, when she was believed to be three to four months pregnant, Ogden said. He left his 1-year-old daughter with relatives when they reported her missing after failing to return to Wisconsin.
Christensen’s remains were stored at the University of Indianapolis’ Department of Forensic Anthropology while the coroner worked with the DNA Doe Project to try to identify them.
After the Indiana State Police Forensic Laboratory extracted DNA from them, forensic genetics determined they closely matched DNA from two of Christensen’s relatives, Ogden said.
Coincidentally, at the same time identification efforts were underway, her family was working on creating an accurate family tree using genealogy and ancestry, Ogden said.
“Because so many of Connie’s living relatives uploaded their DNA to the genealogy website, geneticists in the DNA Do program were able to provide our office with a candidate’s name much more quickly than we expected,” he said.
Ogden said Christensen’s now-adult daughter was taken to the site where her mother’s remains were found last Tuesday, so she left flowers there. Authorities presented him with a gold ring with an opal and two diamonds found with his mother’s remains.
“Our hearts go out to Connie’s family, and we are proud to have brought them the answers they have sought for so long,” said Missy Koski, a member of the DNA Doe Project. Press release. “I am proud of our dedicated and talented volunteers who were able to assist law enforcement in recovering Connie Christensen’s name after all this time.”