Skeletal Remains Found Three Decades Ago Identified, With Help From Genealogy Website - NBC Southern California

Skeletal Remains Found Three Decades Ago Identified, With Help From Genealogy Website

A skeleton with hands cut off found in 1987 belonged to 20-year-old Tracey Hobson of Anaheim.

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    The Orange County Sheriff's Department was able to identify a Jane Doe homicide victim after 31 years using emerging forensic genealogy techniques Jan. 17, 2019.

    What to Know

    • Sheriff investigators confirmed the identity of a woman's remains in Anaheim from 1987.

    • The victim was identified as 20-year-old Tracy Hobson.

    • Anthropological examination determined the woman's hands were cut off and she was stabbed in the chest.

    The murder mystery of a stabbed woman whose hands were cut off was a step closer to being solved Thursday as the victim was identified 31 years after her skeleton was unearthed.

    The victim's identity was confirmed by Orange County sheriff's investigators with the help of DNA research after using a genealogy website.

    She was named as 20-year-old Tracey Hobson of Anaheim.

    Her remains were found on Aug. 30, 1987, in a grassy area about 50 feet from Santa Ana Canyon Road a half-mile away from Gypsum Canyon Road in an unincorporated area of Anaheim. Investigators found just a red handkerchief and a piece of a cord near the skeleton.

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    Her hands were cut off and she was stabbed in the chest area, investigators were able to determine following an anthropological examination.

    Experts figured the remains had been there for about two months before a passerby found them.

    The first DNA profile of the victim was developed in May 2005. Efforts to identify the victim through various databases since then proved fruitless until November.

    Experts tentatively identified the victim Nov. 14 after using an genealogy website.

    DNA experts did a genome sequencing of genetic material of the victim that produced 3 billion markers, said Margaret Press, co-founder of the DNA Doe Project, which helped identify the victim.

    After reducing that file and checking the DNA profile for matches in a genealogy website it narrowed down the possibilities, Press said. From there, a relative was asked to upload their genetic material to GEDmatch, a DNA database, Press said.

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    "We reached out to a family member who had tested on an ancestry website and asked them to upload to GEDmatch, which gave us the confirmation we needed," Press said.

    Now sheriff's investigators can use this major development in the case to focus on bringing her killer to justice, Press said.