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From 'cold case' to closed: Website aims to ID human remains

From 'cold case' to closed: Website aims to ID human remains (KOMO)

EVERETT, Wash. (KOMO) -- The phone rang Thursday morning. The emotion was palpable.

"She said, 'I think that's her,'" recalled Lilly Moorman. "You can hear the desperation in someone's voice. She's been searching for her friend since 1977."

The person on the other end of the line was in Australia, more than 7,000 miles -- and nearly 40 years -- removed from the case she was calling about. The woman had recognized details and images posted on the Snohomish County Medical Examiner's website for a person who was murdered in the late 1970s but was never identified.

The site had been up for one day.

"It's reaching out further than we could've hoped," said Moorman, an investigator in the medical examiner's office. "To be reunited with them, to know that you have closure, to know that you have answers is one of our primary jobs."

The Unidentified Remains Website, launched Wednesday, has info on Snohomish County's 14 unsolved cases where someone's remains have been found, processed, and analyzed, but never fully identified.

The oldest case is from 1956. The newest is from January 2015. A man was found dead in a shed behind a home, and may have been deceased for as long as two years.

In many of the cases, new technology has been used to create lifelike images of what the person likely looked like.

"Forensic artists in conjunction with forensic anthropologists can arrive at amazing likenesses of these individuals," said Dr. Daniel Selove, the Snohomish County Medical Examiner. "They work from the contours of the skull to create these artist renderings."

The 1977 Jane Doe case was ruled a murder. David Roth was sentenced to life behind bars in connection with the case, according to the Everett Herald.

The victim sits in an unmarked gravesite at Everett's Cypress Lawn Memorial Park. Moorman is hoping to change that.

"This woman from Australia -- she's actively searching for one of her friends from the '70s. It turns out this person was a hitchhiker and had gone from state to state at that time and was of a vulnerable population," Moorman said. "There's a very good possibility that they could be connected and she knows all the family contacts."

"It's a very important part of being able to come to grips with what has happened and to be able to move on."

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