DNA leads to identity, murder charge in death of ‘Princess Doe’ 40 years later

‘My cousin is always in my heart’

Dawn Olanick (NCMEC)

BLAIRSTOWN TOWNSHIP, N.J. – A molar root that weighed just 200 milligrams was the key to identifying a teen who was brutally murdered nearly 40 years ago.

Prosecutors in New Jersey announced on Friday (July 15) that the teen only known as “Princess Doe” had been identified as Dawn Olanick.

Olanick’s body was found exactly 40 years ago, on July 15, 1982 in a New Jersey cemetery. Her face had been beaten so severely that she could not be identified.

Olanick was 17 years old when she was killed. Prosecutors have charged Arthur Kinlaw with her murder. Kinlaw is currently in prison for a different murder.

“This is a very big deal for my family,” said Olanick’s cousin. “I’d like to thank Blairstown for treating my cousin like she was one of their own. It touches our family deeply . . . my cousin is always in my heart.”

How DNA cracked the case

Olanick was the first unidentified persons’ case to be entered into the National Crime Information Center. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children helped submit Olanick’s molar and eyelash to Astrea Forensics in 2021 for DNA testing.

“What is so special about Astrea is that they are able to extract DNA from samples that are degraded or otherwise would provide no value,” said Carol Schweitzer, a forensic supervisor at NCMEC. “We knew that if anyone could get the information that was needed, Astrea could.”

Kelly Kincaid, CEO of Astrea Forensics, told NCMEC that the DNA was well preserved and they were able to complete the DNA profile with it.

“This single DNA extract contained hundreds of millions of unique human DNA fragments,” said Kincaid. “With these sequencing data we were able to reconstruct [her] whole genome single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNP) profile. This resulted in Astrea being able to deliver genotype files to NCMEC and the Warren County Prosecutor’s Office that could go on and be used to complete Princess Doe’s genealogy.”

Innovative Forensic Investigations (IFI) worked on investigative genetic genealogy to build a family tree. That led to investigators identifying Olanick.

“This work was only possible because of the collaborative effort of each agency,” said Jennifer Moore, CEO of IFI. “Our team brings forward a diverse set of skills that allows us to help find answers to cases.”

Anyone who has information regarding the case is asked to contact the Warren County Prosecutor’s Office.

Read: 6-year-old boy found murdered in Georgia 23 years ago has finally been identified

About the Author:

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.