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Thirty Years Lost: DNA examination led to identity of remains found in Kansas in 1987

On September 21, 1987, a road crew discovered human remains off of 290th Street near Lincolnville, Kansas in Marion County. Investigators determined that a female victim had been murdered but the usual identification methods were unsuccessful because the body was badly decomposed. 

Thirty years after the discovery of the remains, the the Kansas Bureau of Investigation identified the deceased through DNA as being 22-year-old Michelle Carnall-Burton who had been reported missing

The K-State Anthropology Department examined the remains at the time and created a physical profile of the victim. They determined that the victim was a white female between 20 and 35 years old who had likely died around two to three months before her discovery. Carnall-Burton lived in Wichita but she left her Cherryvale home in 1986 and had lost touch with her family. 

In February 2019, the DNA Doe Project assisted KBI agents and forensic scientists to identify the woman using DNA testing and forensic genetic genealogy searching. Investigators were able to identify a distant cousin who had submitted DNA to an online service.  That match led investigators to determine that the victim was closely related to the Carnall family, formerly of Cherryvale, Kansas.

Michelle Carnall-Burton’s parents, who now live in Corpus Christi, Texas, both submitted DNA samples. KBI officials said testing confirmed that the remains belonged to their missing daughter.

No arrests were ever made but KBI said it continues to pursue leads.

Anyone with information on Carnall-Burton’s whereabouts in June or July of 1987 is asked to contact the KBI at 1-800-KS-CRIME, or submit a tip here.

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