PITTSBURGH – A woman whose skeletal remains were found in an abandoned Western Pennsylvania railroad tunnel more than a dozen years ago has been identified through an online DNA database.
Amanda Sue Myers, 22, was the woman whose remains were found by train tracks in the fenced-off tunnel in the Homestead section of Pittsburgh in 2000, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported.
The remains, dubbed “Homestead Doe,” were buried in 2009 along with those of two other unidentified women in Woodruff Memorial Park in North Strabane Township.
Officials say they still don’t know how she died, but relatives and police said Myers battled drug addiction, surrendered her two young daughters in a closed adoption, and drifted among Pittsburgh, Florida and Tennessee. Family members reported having last seen her that January at her daughter’s first birthday party, and officials said her decomposing body probably lay in the dark tunnel for months before it was found.
Sgt. Joseph Gannon and detectives Carl Sanchioli and William Fleske periodically revisited the cold case, contacting family and friends to try to develop new leads as to the whereabouts of Myers, who had been staying in a shelter in downtown Pittsburgh before she vanished.
Authorities got nowhere until February 2010, when they went to a law enforcement seminar in Appleton, Wis., where they learned about the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, which compiles coroners’ reports on unidentified bodies and tries to match them the missing person reports from police agencies.
The detectives contacted relatives of Myers and got DNA samples from her grandmother, mother and half-sister, which they sent to the database system.
“Little did we know the county medical examiner already had her remains,” Sanchioli said. Last summer, the database matched the DNA of the unidentified body with a DNA swab from Myers’ mother, who lives in Florida.