Lawrence County, Ohio, authorities on Wednesday exhumed the body of a woman killed 30 years ago in an attempt to learn her identity.

They were assisted in the endeavor by the Boyd County Coroner’s Office.

The woman’s body was found in a cistern in the Dobbstown area in April 1981. Her death was ruled a homicide and her identity could not be determined.

The Lawrence County Coroner’s Office entered information about the woman into the National Unidentified Persons Data System, also known as NamUs, several years ago, according to a news release from the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department. NamUs is a clearinghouse for missing persons and unidentified decedent records and will also do DNA comparisons to try to identify missing individuals.

NamUs has already excluded 13 people as the unidentified woman, Sheriff Jeff Lawless said.

Lawless said he and Lawrence County Corner Dr. Kurt Hoffman both believe it’s important to try to identify the woman so her family can have a small sense of relief.

“We have no new leads in this case,” the sheriff said. “We are simply trying to determine the identity of this person. Technologies are available to us today that were not available to us in 1981.”

Following disinterment, the body was taken to the Boyd County Morgue. It was examined there by Dr. Elizabeth Murray, a biology professor and forensic/biological anthropologist, who attempted to collect a DNA sample, and Boyd County Deputy Coroner Dr. Ralph Beadle, a forensic dentist, who examined and made a record of the teeth.

Once the exams were completed, the body was returned to the burial site. The sheriff’s department did not say where that was.

DNA and other evidence collected will be entered with NamUs, Lawless said. Individuals who have missing loved ones can also donate DNA samples to the database for comparison, he said.

“Anyone who would like more information about this case can visit the NamUs website at and refer to Case No. 6259,” Lawless said.

Perry Brock of Brock’s Vault Co. volunteered his services for Wednesday’s disinterment, as did Phillips Funeral Home, which transported the body, Lawless said.

Anyone with information on the case should call the sheriff’s department at (740) 532-3525 or the coroner’s office at (740) 532-3309.

KENNETH HART can be reached at or

(606) 326-2654.

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