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Ohio Attorney General's LINK program helps solve mystery of remains found in 1996
Thursday, December 26, 2013 12:13 PM

YOUNGSTOWN – Ohio Attorney General DeWine announced Thursday that remains found in Mahoning County nearly 17 years ago have been identified through DNA technology.

The remains, discovered in December 1996, were identified this month as 35-year-old Jacqueline Rowe of Youngstown. She disappeared from the city earlier that year. Her cause of death was ruled undetermined.

The identification was made through a free service offered by the Attorney General's Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) for police, coroners, and families of missing individuals. The LINK Program (Linking Individuals Not Known) was established through the Attorney General's Office in 1999 to match DNA taken from family members of missing individuals to unidentified remains.

"The things that can be done with DNA technology today are absolutely amazing, and we urge those with a missing loved one to consider submitting a DNA sample," said Attorney General DeWine. "There are hundreds of people missing in this state who, sadly, may have been killed and never identified, and this process could help provide some answers."

Samples of DNA submitted by family members for the LINK Program are compared only to DNA samples of unidentified remains submitted through similar programs nationwide.

So far, family members of 128 missing people in Ohio have submitted their DNA, and law enforcement and coroners have submitted the DNA of 33 unidentified individuals who were found deceased.

The identification of Rowe's body marks the 23rd identification made through the LINK program since its inception. Officials with the Mahoning County Coroner's Office submitted DNA from Rowe's then-unidentified body in 2006. In August, Rowe's daughter, who was 18 when her mother disappeared, met with Youngstown Police to submit her DNA. Following DNA analysis, the match was made on December 5th.

Two other identifications made through the LINK Program in 2013 include:

Sharon Kedzierski: Kedzierski's unidentified remains were located in April 1992 in Mahoning County. Her DNA was submitted to LINK by the Mahoning County Coroner's Office, and a match was made in January after family members in the state of Oregon submitted their DNA through a similar program. Kedzierski had gone missing in 1989 from Miami Lakes, Florida.

Diann Lynn Tatum: Tatum's unidentified remains were located in St. Clair, Michigan, in 1994. She had gone missing from Jeffersonville, Ohio, in 1988. Family members submitted their DNA to LINK in 2005, and a match was made in March when Michigan authorities submitted DNA from her remains to the system.

For more information on the LINK Program, residents and law enforcement can contact BCI at 855-BCI-OHIO (855-224-6446).

A full list of unidentified remains cases and missing persons cases submitted to BCI can be found on the Ohio Attorney General's website.