Skull found 15 years ago on NY Indian reservation is identified as belonging to NJ woman

A partial skull found 15 years ago on a central New York Indian reservation has been identified through DNA as that of a missing New Jersey woman, authorities said Friday.

Investigators believe 47-year-old Maryann Krepps was killed by her boyfriend, Thomas Card, a few weeks before the remains were found on Onondaga Nation land, Onondaga County Sheriff Kevin Walsh said. Card, a sex offender, died in prison in 2006.

Krepps was last seen by her North Brunswick, N.J., family about six weeks before the skull's discovery in May 1998. Her sister, who reported her missing the following April, was in Syracuse this week to bring the remains home.

"The family said they had always hoped they would hear from her again," Walsh told The Associated Press by phone. "But it had gotten to the point where they realized there was a strong possibility that something had happened to her."

The identification was made in April after a national database matched DNA from Krepps' family, which was submitted to the inventory in August 2010, to DNA from the skull entered by New York cold case investigators in October 2009.

It's unknown why it took until 2013 for the match to be made, Walsh said.

For years after its discovery, Onondaga County investigators, based on a forensic expert's opinion, believed the skull was that of a younger black woman and did not consider it in missing person's cases involving other races. Krepps was white, and the rest of her remains were never found.

After Krepps disappeared, Card said she had moved in with a New York City drug dealer. Card, who was using the alias Thomas Kelly after serving prison time in New Jersey for sex offenses, later said she was in rehab.

Card was returned to prison after another conviction in 2002 and died of natural causes.