Skull Found on Mount Hood in 1986 Belonged to 19-Year-Old

Police seeking tips on Wanda Ann Herr
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 23, 2020 8:08 AM CDT

Oregon police are investigating the 1970s disappearance of a 19-year-old woman after a skull found on Mount Hood in 1986 was confirmed to be hers. Two Forest Service workers were near Government Camp when they came across the partial skull and other bone fragments, which were thought to have been in the forest for at least a decade, according to the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office. The remains—initially determined to have come from a young woman or small man—were confirmed to be that of a woman in her late teens to early 20s in 2008, per the Oregonian. A sketch and physical reconstruction were released in 2017, per KPTV. But no other major insights were gained until last year, when authorities carried out DNA phenotyping, the process of predicting a person's appearance and ancestry from DNA, and explored genetic genealogy.

"This new info, combined with extensive genealogical research, soon revealed a likely name for the young woman: Wanda Ann Herr, born in 1957," the sheriff's office says, per Fox News, adding it confirmed the finding with DNA from Herr's surviving sisters. They say Herr was raised in a different household and may have been living in a group home in the Portland suburb of Gresham when she disappeared sometime after June 1976. "Though detectives believe she was a chronic runaway based on interviews, there are no records of Wanda as a runaway or missing person," the sheriff's office says. "She had no DMV record, no bank account, and there are no police reports that mention her." Police could only find a photo of Herr at age 12, which they hope will generate leads. Tips can be submitted online or by calling 503-723-4949. (More cold cases stories.)

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