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Identified Decades Later

A genetic genealogy-based approach has identified remains found in Montana in 1985, linking them to Janet Lee Lucas, who was last seen in Washington State in 1983, the New York Times reports.

An initial forensic anthropology analysis of the remains — dubbed "Christy Crystal Creek" based on where they were found — suggested that the victim, who had been shot, was between 4-feet, 8-inches tall and 5-feet tall, about 24- to 34-years old, and, based on the dental work, likely from Japan or Korea. But this last point, the Times, notes, turned out to be incorrect.

Investigators recently turned to a genetic genealogy approach and, using FamilyTreeDNA and GEDmatch, identified a cousin of the victim, who knew of a missing person in the family, according to the Times, which adds that a DNA sample from Lucas' son then confirmed the finding.

Lucas, it notes, was not Asian, and the University of Montana's Kirsten Green Mink tells the Times that the case underscores how forensic anthropology analyses can be misleading if they are taken as infallible. "Our toughest part is educating law enforcement and the public that it's not an exact science," she adds at the Times, noting that the field was also in its infancy at the time of the analysis.

Investigators now hope to determine who killed Lucas, it adds.