Significant Break in Minnesota Cold Case Death Investigation
New Brighton, MN (KROC-AM News) - There has been a significant break in a Minnesota cold case death investigation.
The New Brighton Department of Public Safety says the remains of a woman discovered 23 years ago have finally been identified. Modern DNA testing and genetic genealogy were used to identify 40-year-old Gale Marlene Johnson of Minneapolis.
A news release says the then-unidentified woman's body was discovered by two teenagers walking through Long Lake Regional Park on September 15, 2000. At the time, investigators stated that they believed the remains had been there for up to two months. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety obtained DNA from the remains but it did not match anyone who had been reported missing or in convicted offender databases.
New Brighton officials decided this past summer to work with Astrea Forensics for a genetic genealogy investigation. A DNA profile was developed and compared to profiles available in public databases, and that ultimately led to a "likely connection to Johnson's family."
That connection was confirmed after investigators obtained a DNA sample from a family member in Minnesota and submitted it to the BCA for forensic testing.
The news release says, that due to the condition of her remains, the Ramsey County Medical Examiner's Office was not able to determine the cause and manner of the woman's death, but investigators considered it suspicious. New Brighton authorities are now asking anyone who knew or had contact with Gail Johnson to contact investigators in the Twin Cities suburb.
She was described as 5 foot 7, about 135 pounds, with light brown hair. Johnson was known to drive a black or gray 1989 Ford Mustang and had been a sex worker who spent time along Lake Street in Minneapolis. The news release says her last known contact with law enforcement occurred about two months before her body was discovered.