Anne Marie Lehman's body was found in August 1971. Her remains have just been identified through DNA evidence
A girl who was found dead nearly 50 years ago but who has remained unidentified ever since has finally been named thanks to DNA and genetic genealogy.
The skeletal of Anne Marie Lehman was found in a woodland Oregon in August 1971.
For decades, she was referred to by police as Jane Annie Doe because there were no clues as to who she was.
That was until this year when investigators, using new technology which studied bone, hair and teeth DNA, ran hers into a database to compare it with others.
They found a match with her sister, whose DNA was registered in the nationwide GEDMatch database, and identified her.
Anne was 16 when she vanished from Aberdeen, Washington State.
It was never determined by local police if she had run away or if she had been kidnapped and for 47 years, her family has been left wondering what happened to her.
Police still do not know how she died.
They believe she was killed but it remains unclear what the manner of death was.
Local authorities investigating her case in Oregon said there were fears she had been folded into a human trafficking organization when she vanished in the 1970s.
Her body was stumbled upon by a traveling father and his son who say they stopped to spend the night near a wooded area and found her bones the next day.
As part of their investigation over the last 50 years, police have released sketches and a clay dummy of what they thought she may have looked like
The case went untouched until 2004 when, in light of technological advances, it was reopened.
Forensic investigators made a clay impression of what they thought she would have looked like but it drew no leads.
In 2016, they forensic isotope analysis was used to determine the area she was likely from.
It was not until 2018, when the DNA Doe Project became involved, that they got a break in the case.
The project cross-references the DNA of unidentified dead people with that of people who have voluntarily submitted theirs to databases across the US.
They ran Anne's and found a match with her sister in Washington State.
The Lehman family has not commented on the discovery but law enforcement agencies heralded it as a major success.
'Forensic genetic genealogy is fast becoming the most powerful new tool for solving cold cases that have resisted all other approaches.
'Without the DNA Doe Project orchestrating the effort to bring Annie Marie Lehman home, it may well have taken another 47 years before Annie would be identified and reunited with her family,' the Josephine County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.
The case is the latest in a string of previously unsolved murders or missing persons cases which has been solved by modern DNA advances.