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Body to be exhumed in cold case homicide from 1967

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Posted at 9:27 AM, Jul 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-28 10:55:33-04

BLENDON TOWNSHIP, Mich. — A long cold homicide case from 1967 is receiving fresh attention from law enforcement in Michigan thanks to DNA and computer technology.

The Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office released a computer-generated image from the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children. The image is of a black female between 16 and 22 years old and between 90 and 100 pounds when she died.

The case began on October 20, 1967, when hunters found a body near the intersection of 52nd Avenue and Fillmore Street in Blendon Township in Ottawa County. The young woman had suffered blunt force trauma to the head and had been strangled.

The victim has never been identified. The body was buried and the case went cold despite efforts by the county sheriff, The Grand Rapids Police Department, the Detroit Police Department, agencies in Muskegon County, and the Michigan State Police.

The case got new attention in 2018 when the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office Cold Case team when they entered the case into a national database, called NAMUS, designed to help find missing persons and solve old homicide cases. But nothing came of that, though the information remains in the database.

In June 2020, detectives received court permission to exhume the remains for DNA sampling and to seek further evidence. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children was contacted due to the young age of the victim.

The body will be exhumed on July 29, and Ottawa County investigators have assembled a team to further examine what they find, including staff from a funeral home, the Blendon Cemetery, the medical examiner’s office, a human remains analyst from Michigan State Police, anthropology consultants from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and Michigan State University.

Anyone with information that would help this investigation can leave information anonymously at Silent Observer online or by phone at 1-877-88-SILENT.