Advanced DNA testing solves identify of unsolved case from 1988

Published 5:04 pm Monday, December 19, 2022

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The Kentucky State Police Forensic Lab joined with Othram Inc. in using advanced DNA testing to establish the identity of a victim in an unsolved case from 1988, a “Jane Doe” found along a road in rural Owen County, as Linda Bennett.

In May 1988, a couple from Owenton spotted an unresponsive woman while on a walk, which resulted in KSP Post 5 in Campbellsburg opening an investigation. Detectives determined that her death was a homicide; however, they were unable to identify the victim. Investigators collected her fingerprints and compared them to others in databases and did multiple forensic facial reconstructions, but leads were exhausted. The case has remained open throughout the years, in hope that someday the victim may be identified as technology progressed.

In June 1988, Bennett’s family reported her missing to authorities in Columbus, Ohio, where she was last known to live. Bennett’s family did not live in the same state and had limited contact with her.

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In 2022, new information was acquired about a possible identity of the victim, leading investigators to her son, who provided a DNA sample. The DNA sample made a match to Linda Bennett, positively confirming her identity.

“Advancements in technology and scientific testing have led to this new information. This could not have been done without the combined efforts of all those working on this case,” said Detective Paul Johnson of the Campbellsburg Post. “I express my heartfelt condolences to the family of Ms. Bennett and hope that knowing her whereabouts helps them to rest easier.”

KSP detectives partnered with multiple groups to solve the case.  Othram, Inc., provided recovery, enrichment, and analysis of human DNA that was able to match Bennett. The Attorney General’s Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) team provided funding, and the agency’s SAKI investigative team worked closely with Post 5 detectives providing research and data.

“When you become part of a project such as SAKI, you do so hoping to get some measure of closure or justice for people who have been waiting for so long, in this case, decades,” said KSP SAKI Detective Janet Barnett.  “It also reinforces that no one person can make a case like this a success. It takes professionals from all disciplines and agencies working together to bring cases like this to fruition.”