30 years later, body that washed ashore on Lake Erie is identified

'Monroe County Jane Doe 1092' identified as Kimberly Wuerthele, who was reported missing out of Indiana

Published On: Jul 20 2012 10:24:09 AM EDT   Updated On: Jul 20 2012 11:23:54 AM EDT
DETROIT -

The Monroe County Sheriff's Office says a woman whose body washed ashore on Lake Erie in 1982 has finally been identified.

For years, the woman was known as "Monroe County Jane Doe 1092." But now, with the help of DNA, Kimberly A. Wuerthele has been found.

Indiana woman goes missing

On June 22, 1982 the family of 21-year-old Kimberly Wuerthele reported her missing to the Portage Police Department after they had not seen her since she left the family car in Chicago on February 26, 1982. Kimberly jumped from the family’s car in Chicago while the family was trying to get her help from an addiction problem. They never heard from her again.

Body found in Lake Erie

On March 31, 1982, the body of an unidentified white female washed ashore on Lake Erie at the Detroit Edison property located at 3500 E Front Street in Monroe. At the time, an autopsy was performed to determine the manner and cause of death, which was ruled a homicide. The investigation indicated the unidentified female had been in the water for weeks, up to months.

Investigators turn to DNA

On March 3, 2009, Monroe County Jane Doe 1982 was exhumed for the purpose of obtaining DNA. Portage Police Detective Corporal Janis Regnier had started trying to solve the cold case the year before and recruited a new DNA database at the University of North Texas to do some work.

UNT works in conjunction with NamUs, an online database where family, law enforcement and coroners or medical examiners can upload information on missing persons and unidentified remains. The facility at UNT tests family DNA in hopes of matching it up with the DNA to the remains of unidentified persons.

In February of 2011, Regnier was able to track down Wuerthele’s two brothers and asked them to provide their DNA.

In February of 2012, with DNA from just one of the brothers, she submitted his DNA to be used in the database.

On July 2, 2012 the DNA was subsequently matched to the remains of the "Monroe County Jane Doe 1982."

Tips

The Monroe County Sheriff's Office is actively pursuing this homicide investigation. The Monroe County Sheriff's Office is requesting anyone with information about the disappearance and or
murder of Kimberly Wuerthele to contact the Monroe County Sheriff's Office - (Michigan) Detective Bureau -734-240-7530 or Detective Jeff Pauli at or 734-240-7745.