Breakthroughs in forensic technology have led investigators to the identity of a woman whose body was found in California more than 30 years ago.
According to ABC News, the identification of Tracey Hobson, who was 20 years old when her remains were found in August 1987, was confirmed through forensic odontology. A study of Hobson’s known bite marks was used as a secondary form of identification after a DNA match led to the first definitive link in the cold case.
Her remains were found in a grassy area weeks after she died. In addition to her skeleton, police recovered a red handkerchief and a cord from the scene.
According to a statement from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, authorities had been trying for more than a decade to find out what happened to the skeleton found in Anaheim, studying her DNA since it was added to a national database in 2005.
Two years ago, a new break in the case came with new composite images of what the victim likely looked like. That effort yielded no results, however.
In August, the law enforcement agency began working with a nonprofit organization specializing in using forensic genealogy to identify individuals labeled as John or Jane Doe.
The partnership paid off just a few months later when the California Department of Justice noticed a familial match between the victim’s sample and an individual’s DNA in the department’s database.
Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes heralded recent advancements in the field of forensic genealogy in a statement confirming the lead in the case.
He said the agency had access to “a new tool for investigators to work cases from a different angle to bring closure to families.”
Police say they still do not have a motive or suspect connected to the apparent homicide, however.
The investigation remains ongoing and anyone with relevant information can contact the Orange County Crime Stoppers by calling 1-855-TIP-OCCS.
[Featured image: Tracey Hobson, Orange County Sheriff’s Office]