It's a seemingly unsolvable mystery that has been solved, partially, some eight decades later: What were the origins of a 9-month-old girl abandoned, with her hands tied in front of her, in a blackberry bush in Worthing, England? That Anthea Ring survived is thanks to Margaret Dodd, a British mother of five who heard the child while walking with her family during an August 1937 holiday. It wasn't until 1961, when Ring had two children of her own, that her adoptive parents told her the truth of her origins, which included an attempted murder investigation by Scotland Yard that went nowhere. It would be more than three decades before Ring decided to investigate her own past, communicating with a cop who worked the case and some of Dodd's daughters. But things really picked up steam in 2012, writes Claire Bates for the BBC.
That's when the then-75-year-old took a DNA test. It showed she was 92% Irish, and led her to an American cousin named Joan. Joan convinced some relatives to take tests, which narrowed things down to County Mayo in Ireland. A 2015 match with another woman—who hailed from County Galway and didn't match with Joan—provided some insight to the other side of Ring's family. In April 2016, she began working with a genetic genealogist, and the two zeroed in on two families: the Coynes in County Galway and the O'Donnells in County Mayo. More sleuthing and more DNA tests uncovered her mother, Lena O'Donnell; her illegitimate birth; and her birth name, Mary Veronica. Read the full story, which explains how saliva helped her uncover her father and presents theories on how she ended in the bush, here. (Read more Longform stories.)