DNA test results awaited before suicide victim’s name released

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Detectives say it could be 30 days or more before they’re ready to release the name of a woman found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in October near the site of the former Elwha Dam.

Detective Sgt. John Keegan of the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office said investigators have identified at least two likely relatives of the woman and are waiting for confirmation via DNA tests.

“[There’s] a high probability we discovered next of kin, and we’re trying to match DNA up,” Keegan said.

A Washington Conservation Corps work crew found the body Oct. 17 about 65 yards off where Lower Dam Road turns to gravel, the Sheriff’s Office has said.

The woman, likely dead for at least a week, was found with a gunshot wound to the head and a revolver lying next to the body, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

An autopsy confirmed that the death was due to suicide, authorities said.

DNA samples have been taken from the presumed mother and sister of the woman and are on their way to the State Patrol Crime Laboratory in Marysville for comparison with samples taken from the woman’s body during the autopsy, Keegan said.

“We’re just going to be sending those off to the lab as soon as possible and waiting for those replies back,” Keegan said.

He said results would likely take at least 30 days to get back, depending on the lab’s case load.

“[The time frame] could vary greatly,” he said.

Keegan declined to give the names of the presumed family members to protect their privacy, saying only that they live in the state.

A woman from the Seattle-area, citing a Peninsula Daily News article, told investigators late last month that the woman might be a friend of hers and gave a description and a name, Keegan said, allowing detectives to secure a photo of the woman from the state Department of Licensing.

Detectives, however, were not able to confirm the identity through medical records, as originally planned, because no medical providers for the woman could be found, Keegan said.

He said that before the likely family members were found, the Sheriff’s Office was prepared to release the name to the public and ask for help in identifying her.

Detectives believe the woman, whose body was found along a dirt trail not far from the former Elwha Dam site, was from the Grays Harbor area and likely traveled to Clallam County by bus, since no vehicle associated with her was found.

Investigators found nearby a large handbag with a shoulder strap containing a bottle of water, some trail mix and other personal items, Keegan has said.

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Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at jschwartz@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: November 14. 2013 6:57PM
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