MARION COUNTY, Ohio (WOIO) - “There was no clothing, no jewelry, purse or any identifying materials left at the scene, and a 9-year investigation was started to identify the woman," said Marion County Sheriff Tim Bailey.
With no clues as to who the woman in a sketch was or where she was from, detectives, scientists, anthropologists and DNA experts worked tirelessly to figure out if it was Dana Nichole Lowrey. At the time in 2007 there was nothing. Then Shawn Grate confessed to the crime, while admitting to four other murders.
The case puzzled investigators for a dozen years even after Grate’s confession. They had a killer and a set of bones recovered from a rural field but no idea who they belonged to.
“There were bones across an entire field and my staff got online and walked across the field. We would find a bone and she would say, 'That’s a rabbit, that’s a dog, that’s human.” said Bailey, crediting the work of an anthropologist on his team.
The woman had never been reported missing, so there was no DNA. Grate had recalled that her name might be Dana or something like it. Then the Sheriff got a call from U.S. Marshall Pete Elliot about a new technology: familial DNA.
The Sheriff got encouraging news just this month.
"The initial results came back on May 17, the preliminary results indicated that the victim was very likely Dana Nichole Lowrey of Minden, La.
A second cousin’s DNA was found and matched to the Marion body. The sheriff went to Louisiana to talk to the family and got a picture.
“If you have a missing family member a lot of people don’t know to go and enter their DNA." Elliot said.
You can do that through the Attorney General’s BCI page.
Marion County will seek charges against Grate, even though he is on death row and serving a life sentence.