A happy anniversary? 'Jane Doe' from 1981 homicide identified exactly 40 years after being found

jane doe
Source: DNA Doe Project

May 27 2021, Published 8:46 p.m. ET

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The body of a woman found in Missouri in 1981 has been identified using familial DNA exactly 40 years after her remains were discovered.

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Karen Kay Knippers’s body was discovered at a low water crossing near Dixon on May 25, 1981, according to the Pulaski County Sheriff's Department.

The announcement of Knipper's name happened on May 25, 2021.

She was later buried as a "Jane Doe" at Waynesville Cemetery when authorities were unable to identify her or find a suspect in her apparent homicide, according to the sheriff's department.

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Authorities exhumed her remains in 2015 after a detective became interested in her cold case and asked for approval to take another look, according to the sheriff’s department.

The remains were shipped to the University of North Texas for DNA and forensic analysis. They were then transported to the University of South Florida for further testing in May 2016, according to the department.

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In April 2019, the remains were submitted to the DNA Doe Project, which works to identify "Jane Does" based on familial DNA.

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“The woman, estimated to be between age 25-40, had suffered trauma to her face and had been strangled with pantyhose,” according to a report by the DNA Doe Project. “Her death is considered a homicide.”


The organization gave detectives information about one of the "Jane Doe’s" relatives in December 2019.

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This DNA led them to Knippers’s brother in Alexandria, Virginia, according to the department.

He told police that he had a sister, and the family lost contact with her in the early 1980s, according to the department.

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DNA analysis of the samples found that the man and Knippers were 19.4 million times more likely to be biological siblings than being unrelated, according to police.

“Bottom Line: We now know the name of Pulaski County (Dixon) Jane Doe is Karen Kay Knippers,” the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office said in their statement announcing her ID.

The investigation into Knippers’s case is still ongoing. Anyone with information is urged to call Pulaski County Sheriff’s Detective D.J. Renno at (573) 855-1069.


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