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Body of Missing Girl Identified After 44 Years

Relatives thought they would die wondering
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 13, 2018 5:20 AM CDT
Cheryl Pagano, left, sister of Linda Pagano, gets a hug from Christina Scates, a genealogy researcher, after a press conference updating the Linda Pagano case at the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's...   (Mike Cardew/Akron Beacon Journal via AP)
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(Newser) – After Akron 17-year-old Linda Pagano vanished in 1974, her family spent 44 years wondering what had happened to her. Now they know she was murdered. Stepfather Byron Claflin reported her missing a day after he kicked her out of his apartment for coming home late from a concert. The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's Office confirmed this week that skeletal remains found near a river in 1975 are that of Pagano, News 5 reports. The remains, those of a young woman who had been shot in the head, were buried in Potter's Field after going unclaimed. The breakthrough was made after online sleuth Christina Scates found the record of the Jane Doe while researching an unrelated case and uploaded details to Reddit.

A forensic artist who read about the case created a sketch of the woman, and the medical examiner's office entered details of the case into a national database for missing persons, which had not happened earlier because of a spelling error, the Akron Beacon Journal reports. Akron police Sgt. Jeff Smith found the record and was able to confirm the body was Pagano after it was exhumed and the DNA compared to that of her two siblings. "I thought this day would never come. I thought I would die wondering," brother Michael Pagano says. "I thought I would go on living my life and die and never know." People connected to the case are being re-interviewed by police, though Claflin, described as a "person of interest," died in 1990. (Read more cold cases stories.)

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