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The remains of a missing teenager found 54 years ago have finally been identified, Oregon State Police said.

Sandra Young was a student at Grant High School in Portland, Oregon, when she disappeared in 1968 or 1969, Oregon State Police said in a statement this week.

His skeleton was found by a Boy Scout troop leader in 1970 in a shallow grave on Sauvie Island along the Columbia River along with the tattered remains of his clothing and a black wig.

Investigators said they suspected foul play, but no one has ever been charged with his death.

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A photo of Sandra Young and a composite of what she looks like using her DNA

Sandra Young, left, and an image of what she would have looked like according to the analysis of her remains. (Oregon State Police)

“Sandra Young has regained her identity after 54 years,” said Dr. Nici Vance, coordinator of the state’s Human Identification Program at the Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office. “Her story represents a remarkable amount of diligence and collaboration between family members, detectives, Oregon State Medical Examiner staff, and our contract lab, Parabon NanoLabs.

“This is yet another example of the innovative ways the ME’s Office and genetic genealogy research can help Oregonians find closure. This technology gives researchers the powerful ability to help all law enforcement agencies Oregon with solving the mysteries of its unsolved cases.

In 2004, Young’s remains were taken to the state medical examiner’s center in Clackamas County with more than 100 other unidentified remains.

A bone sample was sent to the Human Identification Center at the University of North Texas and an anthropological report was made.

Even though his DNA profile was added to the Combined DNA Index System or CODIS, which is a DNA database for missing persons, no matches were found.

DNA study

Parabon NanoLabs and GEDMatch were key in identifying Sandra Young through DNA phenotyping and genetic genealogy. (iStock)

In 2018, Young’s case was identified as one that could possibly be solved using DNA phenotyping and investigative genetic genealogy and the Oregon State Police Medical Examiner’s Office received a grant from the National Institute of Justice.

Using a fragment of his bone, Parabon NanoLabs used his genetic material to discover that he was of West African, South African and Northern European ancestry, with brown to dark brown skin, brown eyes and black hair.

Still unidentified in 2021, a prediction was created of what his face would be like.

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“Seeing his face come to life through DNA phenotyping was amazing,” Vance said.

Last year, someone uploaded his DNA to GEDMatch, a genetic genealogy and family tree search company, and a match was made with Young.

oregon state police car

Oregon State Police (Oregon State Police/Facebook)

A genetic genealogist spoke to other members of Young’s distant relative’s family, encouraging them to upload their DNA, and eventually a family tree began to emerge. Relatives said Young had disappeared from Portland in 1968 or 1969.

The Portland Police Bureau then interviewed a woman identified as Young’s sister.

“Through a series of informative, moving and difficult interviews, Detective (Heidi) Helwig discovered that this individual not only lost a teenage sister when Sandra disappeared in 1968 or 1969, but also lost a sister to the gun violence in the 1970s. the police said. “The family member was cooperative, supportive and motivated to determine if the remains could be her sister, Sandra Young.”

In October, a definitive profile determined that Sandra “Sandy” Young was born on June 25, 1951, and disappeared in 1968 or 1969.

State police have encouraged the Portland Police Bureau to investigate the circumstances of Young’s death.

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Genetic genealogy casework has been very successful, but can cost up to $10,000 per case.

By Sam