Police Struggle To ID Body Found 6 Years Ago In Lake Erie

SANDUSKY, Ohio (AP) - She may have been on vacation or homeless. She may have been swimming in Lake Erie or dumped in its waters.

More than six years after a woman's body washed up on the rocks between Toledo and Cleveland, police still are struggling to figure out who she was and where she came from.

"She really could be from anywhere," said Sandusky police Detective Helen Prosowski.

Investigators say the lake's currents could have brought the body from Toledo or Detroit. They have sent composite sketches to other police departments and homeless shelters.

But even the sketches may not help. Her features had worn away while her body was submerged in Lake Erie.

After examining her bone structure, a sketch artist drew one version of the woman's face. A computer graphics software drew a strikingly different one a few years later.

No one has come looking for the woman who matches either picture.

"It seems like we've been working on it forever," Prosowski said. "I want to put her to rest."

The body was found on May 17, 1996. She was buried as a Jane Doe in a Toledo cemetery.

Investigators don't know whether the death was accidental or a homicide.

A coroner's report estimates she was between 35 and 45 years old, 5-foot-8 and weighed between 130 and 145 pounds. She had brown hair. The woman was either black or of mixed race.

She wore a ring -- white gold with a diamond solitaire -- on the third finger of her right hand.

She delivered at least one baby, having a difficult delivery, according to the report.

"Someone out there is missing their mom," Prosowski said.

An Ohio law passed in 1998 requires county coroners to give photographs, fingerprints and DNA samples of all unidentified bodies submitted for autopsy to the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation.

There are 18 unidentified bodies in the BCI's database, according to Bret Crow, a spokesman for attorney general's office.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)