MILLEN, Ga. (TCD) -- Using genealogy technology, investigators recently identified a woman whose remains were found in a suitcase in 1988.
According to a news release from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), on Sunday, Feb. 14, 1988, the Jenkins County Sheriff’s Office requested the GBI’s assistance in a death investigation after discovering a victim encased in plastic and duct tape. The person had been left inside a large nylon suitcase in a dumpster. Investigators determined she died of asphyxiation and had been deceased for approximately four to seven days.
The GBI compared the victim’s fingerprints and dental records to missing people nationwide and created a forensic sketch for public release. The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System initiated an investigation and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children used computer generation to create another sketch. Despite these efforts, the case went cold.
Police resubmitted evidence to the GBI Crime Lab for further testing. Thanks to advancements in DNA technology, analysts successfully detected DNA on the submitted items, but the profiles did not meet the criteria for entry into the Combined DNA Index System Database.
In 2023, the GBI partnered with Othram, a Texas-based company that utilizes forensic-grade genome sequencing and DNA technology to solve cases. Scientists at Othram generated a profile of the victim using a DNA sample, which helped investigators locate potential relatives.
Using the new DNA profile, a genealogical search led investigators to identify the woman as Chong Un Kim, of Hinesville, Liberty County, Georgia. She was reportedly 26 years old at the time of her death and had moved to the United States from Korea in 1981.