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ANCHORAGE – The DNA of an unidentified victim of deceased serial killer Robert Hansen is now available for comparison with potential family members.
Hansen led authorities to the body of a young woman at Horseshoe Lake in Palmer on April 25, 1984. Known as Jane Doe #3, or “Horseshoe Harriet”, she was buried at Anchorage Memorial Cemetery until September of 2014, when her body was exhumed.
The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NAMUS) coordinated the exhumation with the Alaska State Medical Examiner’s Office. The goal: to identify her by providing the public with an image from facial reconstruction and a DNA profile, according to NAMUS spokeswoman Janet Franson.
Franson says that the condition of Horseshoe Harriet’s body made facial reconstruction impossible, but that families missing someone matching her description could submit DNA samples of their own to compare.
“DNA is not a magic bullet, it’s a tool, like any tool in the toolbox,” Franson explained in an email. “We make a lot of identifications with dentals and fingerprints as well. And for the remains that law enforcement, coroners and medical examiners still have, little by little we are getting them processed. I can tell you that the Alaska ME’s office is really working hard on their cases.”
Horseshoe Harriet is believed to have been 19 or 20-years-old when she was murdered, and is described as a white female with brown hair. Her estimated weight is unavailable, but is roughly 64 inches tall, or 5-feet-4-inches. She was wearing a wool scarf, knit coat and sweater, blue jeans, wool socks, leg warmers and a nylon bra when she was found, and was carrying Kool cigarettes, condoms, a compact and a large comb.
Franson says investigators do not know where she is originally from.
“She is documented in NamUs, so even if it is many years later she is identified, they will know who she is and be able to send her home,” Franson said.
With her DNA sample on file, family reference samples (FRS) can now be collected from those who believe Horseshoe Harriet may be a missing relative. Both biological parents are preferred, but if one or both is unavailable to provide a sample, the next closest living relatives can submit a FRS.
A FRS must be collected by law enforcement or an employee of the medical examiner or coroner’s office.