PORT HURON (WWJ/AP) – Southeastern Michigan authorities say they’ve used DNA and dental records to identify remains found in 1994 as those of a central Ohio woman who disappeared in 1988.
The St. Clair County Sheriff’s Office in Port Huron said Wednesday that University of North Texas experts confirmed the skeleton is that of Diann Tatum, who disappeared while traveling from Ohio to visit her parents in the Detroit suburb of Warren.
The department is treating the case as a homicide.
Authorities say the breakthrough happened after members of Tatum’s family had their genetic data entered into a national database in March 2013 and a connection was made. Dental records were then used to confirm identification in April.
Tatum lived in Fayette County, near Washington Court House, Ohio. The married 25-year-old woman went missing after she failed to arrive at her mother’s home in Warren back in 1988. Her car was later found at a motel in Cincinnati, according to reports, where authorities say she was never registered as a guest.
Authorities say two boys found Tatum’s body stuffed in a refrigerator inside an abandoned farmhouse in Cottrellville Township in August 1994. Tatum was shot in the head, according to police.
The St. Clair County Medical Examiner’s Office examined the remains after they were found before sending them to the Michigan State University Anthropology Department for further preservation.
TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.