Authorities hope to identify woman killed in 1980 by exhuming remains in southern Minnesota

  • Article by: Associated Press
  • Updated: August 15, 2014 - 10:58 PM

BLUE EARTH, Minn. — Authorities in southern Minnesota have exhumed the remains of a woman killed more than three decades ago, hoping to finally identify the victim.

New DNA samples taken from the remains could lead to the identity of a woman known only as Jane Doe, according to Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and Faribault County sheriff's investigators who will run the samples through a national DNA database.

"To maybe compare her to somebody that's already out there, a family member that's already been convicted of something or that has their DNA on file," said sheriff's Chief Deputy Scott Adams.

The woman's corpse was exhumed Tuesday from a plot at Riverside Cemetery in Blue Earth marked as "Unknown Caucasian female."

The woman was killed after she was picked up hitchhiking in May of 1980. Her body was dumped in a ravine in Faribault County and later discovered by a farmer, authorities said. The case remained unsolved for years.

"Eight or nine years later a man confessed to killing her," Adams said. "He was a retired state trooper."

Robert Leroy Nelson remains in prison for the crime, KTTC-TV reported (http://bit.ly/Y70rMs ).

Adams said they hope to rebury Jane Doe in about 30 days, though they have 60 days under the court order.

The Southern Minnesota Regional Medical Examiner's Office, the Midwest Association of Forensic Scientists, the Blue Earth Police Department, Patton Funeral Home, Faribault County Attorney Troy Timmerman and G&S Drainage and Excavation are participating in the exhumation and investigation.

Adams said it doesn't matter if the case is a year old or 34 years old.

"She deserves a name and a family is our theory and our goal," he said.

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