CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - What if one of your family members went missing decades ago and you never found out what happened to them?
19 Investigates is profiling several cases of unidentified people the medical examiner’s office is trying to solve in our new series, Unidentified.
It’s a plea for help to give a name to the nameless.
We’re starting with the case of “Tanya Green.”
Who was “Tanya Green?”
A brutal local murder in the 1980s with ties to the Jamaican mob was solved years ago.
But that doesn’t mean the case is closed for everyone.
The case may be closed for police, but it’s still open for the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office.
That’s because nobody knows who the victim really was, 33 years later.
Back in the 1980s, the Italian mafia started fading from the picture in Cleveland.
But another mob was growing strong.
The Jamaican mob, led by a ring in Miami, made its way up north, taking control of drugs and leaving behind violence.
That violence crept into a Cleveland Heights neighborhood one day in 1986.
A woman’s identity is still a mystery today, even after her murder was solved.
Angie Fischer is a parentage analyst for the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Her department uses DNA relationship testing to confirm biological relationships, like maternity and paternity, between known and unknown persons.
“Evidence talks for the decedent,” Fischer said.
It’s her job to find a name for the nameless.
She’s giving 19 Investigates an exclusive look at one of their most puzzling cases.
“She had a boyfriend that knew her as Tanya Greene, and friends that knew her as Tanya Greene,” Fischer said, holding up a forensic sketch of the victim.
But her office learned that name was an alias, even though what happened to her is not a mystery.
Violent murder solved, but still questions
Someone pushed a woman’s body out of a moving vehicle at Reyburn and Westburn Roads in Cleveland Heights on October 18, 1986.
She had been shot at least nine times, several times in the head.
News reports at the time said she tried to swindle a drug dealer, and several men were involved in her death.
But Robert Brown would go down for ordering her murder.
Brown was a notorious drug dealer and killer operating in Cleveland.
The Caribbean Task Force, made up of local police, linked Brown to “about 20 slayings in South Florida since early 1980,” according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
The newspaper reported “Tanya” was going to testify against Brown in another murder case before she was killed.
19 Investigates got a hold of her case file from Cleveland Heights Police.
We found they contacted Ft. Lauderdale Police and the FBI back in the 1980s to confirm Tanya’s name and look for family members.
They believed she was from Florida.
When a verdict came down in 1988, police closed the case.
But decades later, “Tanya’s” real identity is still a mystery at the medical examiner’s office.
“No one named Tanya Green has been reported missing from Florida, and she is not in the NAMUS database, as a missing person Tanya Green,” Fischer said.
“So we have very little to go on there,” she said.
Evidence entered into NAMUS
X-rays and dental records were both entered into NAMUS, a national online search for missing persons and unidentified persons.
But there were no hits. They have no one to compare those records to.
Fingerprints also turned up nothing.
Photos entered into NAMUS show the clothes “Tanya” was wearing the day she died.
“She had on a pink sweatshirt, blue jeans, white tennis shoes and a black bra and panties,” Fischer said.
But the clothes didn’t give them the DNA they need, so she has no DNA profile.
You can view her NAMUS case file here.
Fischer hopes what they do know will be enough to jog someone’s memory.
The woman known as “Tanya” was 5′6″ and 119 pounds and between 32 and 42 years old when she was found dead.
“It is likely that her clothing, that we had initially and then had to release to law enforcement agencies, it’s likely that it’s disposed of. Because the case was solved,” Fischer said.
Fischer knows somewhere out there this woman called “Tanya” has a family.
And decades later, they may have no idea what happened to her.
She wants to bring them those answers.
“So it’s sad to me, and other people who work on these cases, that they don’t have names or someone is wondering where they are,” Fischer said.
Several tips have come in about the real identity of “Tanya Green,” but none have panned out.
Do you know her real identity?
If you have any information on her identity, you can call the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office at 216-721-5610. Select 1 and ask for the Investigations Department.
“Tanya” is just one of more than 50 people the medical examiner’s office is trying to identify.
These cases stretch back decades. Their deaths are often tragic-- murders or accidents.
Learn more about how they’re trying to solve them.