ROANE COUNTY – A woman whose remains were found in 1987 in Roane County has been identified as a result of a partnership between the Roane County Sheriff’s Office and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Unidentified Human Remains DNA Initiative.

On August 29, 1987, a body was discovered by a passer-by beside a garbage dumpster in the 2600 block of Highway 58 in Kingston. Forensic anthropologists determined that the remains were those of a white female, likely between the ages of 35 and 50. The victim had been burned after her death and discarded beside the dumpster. Investigators with the Roane County Sheriff’s Office worked to determine the identity of the victim through the use of technology available in 1987, but their efforts were not successful. After exhausting all leads, investigators could not determine the victim’s identity, and she was classified as a Jane Doe.

Attempts to identify the Roane County Jane Doe continued, and in April of 2009, the University of Tennessee Forensic Anthropology Center submitted a sample of her remains to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. A DNA profile was developed and entered into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) and the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System in hopes that the woman would eventually be identified, but no developments occurred.

In April, as part of the Unidentified Human Remains DNA Initiative, TBI agents assisted the Roane County Sheriff’s Office by submitting a sample of the woman’s remains to Othram Inc., a private lab based in Texas, for forensic genetic genealogical (FGG) DNA testing. Scientists provided information about possible relatives connected to the woman.  Last month, agents made contact with one of those family members and obtained a familial DNA standard. That standard was then submitted to Othram for comparison against the DNA of the unidentified woman. Based on the DNA and forensic genealogy results, scientists at Othram confirmed that the unidentified remains belonged to Betty Lou Wisley (DOB: 12/30/1935), originally of Clinton, Missouri. It was further determined that Wisley was living in or near the Knox County area at the time of her death.

Now, Roane County Sheriff’s Office Investigators and TBI special agents are hoping the public can help piece together the events leading up to Betty Lou Wisley’s death. Anyone with information, specifically any knowledge about individuals she may have been with before her death, is asked to contact the Roane County Sheriff’s Office at 865-717-4722 or email tips to awolff@roanesheriff.org.

Click here to read more about TBI’s Unidentified Human Remains DNA Initiative.


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