Jane Doe identified as drowning victim after 25 years
Jane Doe Death – Detectives have identified the woman as Dorothy Lynn (Thyng) Ricker of Chicago, whose body washed up on the coast of Lake Michigan 25 years ago. On October 27, 1997, Manistee Post troopers of the Michigan State Police received a call reporting the discovery of a woman’s naked body near the water in the 4000 block of Fox Farm Road in Manistee County. Lt. Derrick Carroll said the only thing they obtained from the body to aid in identifying was one earring. Through the Law Enforcement Information Network (LEIN), MSP aired multiple signals to neighboring states, but it never got any solid leads.
Information from Carroll
At the time, an autopsy revealed that the woman had drowned and asphyxiated to death. Her passing was coroner-ruled an accident. They called her “Jane Doe,” as detectives and troopers kept seeking information in their effort to identify her. The case was then revisited and the body was unearthed for cutting-edge DNA testing three years ago, in September 2020, by state police detectives from the Cadillac Post and the MSP Missing Persons Coordination Unit. According to Carroll, Astrea Forensics received her bone samples as part of the DNA Doe Project for Forensic Genetic Genealogy (FGG). Detectives learned of a potential familial match in July 2021, over a year after the case was initially reopened.
Investigative Genetic Genealogy, according to Carroll, is used by the DNA Doe Project to connect samples to prospective relatives. In this instance, the information connected “Jane” to the Acton, Maine-based Thyng family. DNA samples from a putative brother were collected with assistance from the York County Sheriff’s Office in Maine. Detectives claimed that at the same time, they discovered that she might have a daughter residing in Chicago, Illinois, and made the decision to collect DNA from her as well. The DNA Doe Project also discovered Milwaukee Journal Sentinel articles from 1997 that described the unnamed woman’s interactions before her disappearance as part of this extensive inquiry.
Her bone samples weren’t appropriate for standard DNA testing because it had been so long, according to Carroll. In order to identify what they had using cutting-edge Next Generation Sequencing, they shipped it to Intermountain Forensics in Salt Lake City. This action was what ultimately helped detectives identify Ricker last month. Carroll claims that on October 2, 1997, at 2:30 p.m., police from the St. Francis Police Department in Wisconsin last saw Ricker alive. She had been perched on a park bench near the shore of Lake Michigan. The cops claimed to have spoken with her very briefly. She told them that she was from Chicago and, according to police reports, was “enjoying the lakefront and the sun.” Carroll stated that Ricker had not been reported missing at the time, and nothing stood out as unusual.
The next day, on Oct. 3, an abandoned car was found near that same park, according to MSP detectives. When officers ran the plates, it came back to a “missing/endangered person” entered by the Chicago Police Department. It belonged to Ricker. She was 26 years old and a resident of Chicago when she vanished. Although DNA testing wasn’t an option when Dorothy Ricker passed away, Carroll said, “investigators are grateful that it provides her family with some closure today.” The MSP Seventh District and the MSP Intelligence Operations Division funded this inquiry.
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