Two decades after the badly decomposed body of a woman wearing only a bra turned up in the cornfield of an Indiana farmer, detectives have made an identification, using DNA and genetic genealogy.
Detectives from Steuben County who tried for years to ID the remains now know the body belonged to Tina Cabanaw, who, when she died, was 36 years old and mother to a teenage daughter. She was reported missing to Detroit police two months before she was found dead, the Angola Herald Republican reported.
The field where the body was found near Angola in September 1999 is now a golf course, according to the paper which interviewed Cabanaw’s daughter after the identification was announced Sunday by Steuben County Sheriff Rodney Robinson in Indiana.
Jessica Gallegos was 16 when her mother disappeared.
“I have searched for her every year but my hopes of finding her [alive] are crushed,” she told the paper. “There is some good from the closure; I don’t have to search for her anymore.”
Detectives uploaded DNA from the remains to a public genealogy website which led to the identification of fourth, fifth and sixth cousins, the paper reported.
That information ultimately enabled Steuben County Detective Chris Emerick to track down Cabanaw’s sister and then Gallegos after doing his own additional digging, the paper reported.
When she was found dead, Cabanaw was nude except for a bra she was wearing, the paper reported.
Robinson said Cabanaw’s death was being investigated as suspicious.