Woman in cold case murder finally identified 37 years later

The young woman with reddish-brown hair in braids and wearing a buckskin jacket whose body was found in a ditch along a road west of Troy, Ohio, in April 1981 is no longer a Jane Doe.

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After 37 years, she was finally identified as Marcia L. King, 21, of Arkansas, the Miami County Sheriff’s Office announced Wednesday.

"Law enforcement never forgets," Sheriff Dave Duchak said in announcing the identification, which was made using new genetic genealogy tools from the nonprofit organization DNA Doe Project with help from the Miami Valley Regional Crime Lab.

With the identification, the homicide investigation intensifies, said Chief Deputy Steve Lord. The probe is focusing on the last month of King's life when she was known to be in the Pittsburgh and Louisville, Kentucky, areas.

Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff's tip line at 937-440-3990 or leave tips at www.miamicountysheriff.org/contact-us-1.

Jane Doe had been deceased less than two days before her body was found. She died of strangulation and blunt force trauma to the head. The woman had no socks, shoes, bags or any form of identification.

The family did not want to make any statements and wanted to keep their identity confidential, Duchak said.

"They requested that be respected," he said.

The young woman, who became known as the Buckskin Girl, is buried in Troy.

Lord said King's mother, who had hoped for decades that her daughter would return home, was now looking at replacing the Jane Doe headstone. King was never reported as a missing person.

Sheriff’s office leaders said the case was never closed, always on a detective’s desk since 1981. Among those at the press conference were Robert Sweitzer, the retired sheriff’s detective, who first investigated the case, and Steve Hickey, the detective currently assigned the case.

Over the years, various measures were taken in an attempt to learn more about Jane Doe – who she was, where she was from. A couple of years ago, investigators said pollen samples revealed some clues. New photographs were reconstructed using new technology and clothing underwent additional tests in the lab.

Still the information did not lead to an identification.

Greg Bridenbaugh, who farms in the Greenlee Road area, found the body in 1981. “You drive by there and wonder, you know, who she was,” he said Wednesday after the sheriff’s press conference.

When told about the identification of Jane Doe, he said, "You have to be kidding me," he said, adding that the news "kind of clears my mind. The family has a closure now. We have a closure now."

Investigators declined to answer specific questions about the investigation because it's continuing. "It is an old case ... but we are determined to bring the person to justice who did it," Lord said.