Update: Ohio woman’s remains identified after decades through new DNA technology

Update: Ohio woman’s remains identified after decades through new DNA technology

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The DNA Doe Project is a national nonprofit that works to pair unidentified remains to missing persons. 19 News has told you about them before, as they helped to solve several high-profile cold cases.

In 2018, they identified a man who committed suicide in Eastlake, while using the false identity of Joseph Newton Chandler III. The DNA Doe Project tracked down genetic links to determine the man was really Robert Ivan Nichols.

In May 2019, their work identified a Jane Doe discovered in Marion County, Ohio, back in 2007. Convicted serial killer Shawn Grate admitted to killing her back in 2006, but said he didn't know her name. The DNA Doe Project used familial DNA to determine she was Dana Lowrey, who was missing from Minden, Louisiana.

Dana Nicole Lowrey
Dana Nicole Lowrey (Source: Marion County Sheriff's Office)

In 19 News' work to follow up on cases in our area, we have learned updates about two other Ohio cold cases, each solved with the work of the DNA Doe Project.

One of those cases, from 2014, involved a woman whose body was found in a wooded area in Butler County. Butler County Coroner Dr. Lisa Mannix was unable to determine the cause of death, and there no clear indication to her identity, as her remains were mostly skeletal by the time they were found.

However, this year, DNA Doe Project identified living relatives, positively identifying the woman as Darlene Wilson Norcross.

This woman, found dead in the woods in Butler County, has been identified as Darlene Norcross by DNA Doe Project.
This woman, found dead in the woods in Butler County, has been identified as Darlene Norcross by DNA Doe Project.

In a case solved just weeks ago, the investigators determined the identity of a Jane Doe found in rural Marion County, strangled and stuffed down a well. For nearly 40 years, she was unnamed. Now, however, DNA has linked her to living family members, allowing her to be identified as Louise Peterson Flesher. The identity of her killer is still unknown.

Found strangled and stuffed in a well in 1981, Louise Virginia Peterson Flesher, was identified by the DNA Doe Project.
Found strangled and stuffed in a well in 1981, Louise Virginia Peterson Flesher, was identified by the DNA Doe Project.

The DNA Doe Project is able to continue doing genetic testing with donor support, which funds their efforts to give names to unidentified bodies in Ohio and across America.

To find out how you can support a case or learn more about unidentified persons in Ohio, click here.

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