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Dead woman identified after 12 years

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By Stacy Lee
Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012, 1:31 a.m.
 

A 22-year-old Pittsburgh woman who was found dead 12 years ago in the Homestead section of the Waterfront has been identified, the Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office announced on Friday.

Amanda Sue Myers' decomposing body was found on Oct. 3, 2000, in an abandoned railroad tunnel near the base of McClure Street.

No cause or manner of death was determined.

“This woman was essentially skeletonized when we found her in Homestead in 2000,” county medical examiner Dr. Karl Williams said. “At the time, we did everything we could to identify her. We couldn't use dental records. She had a few fillings that were peculiar. Those fillings were found to only be used in Eastern Europe.”

Homestead police Chief Jeff DeSimone said the remains were found by a Continental Real Estate project engineer who was inspecting the property.

“They were checking the tunnel out and they ended up finding this body,” he said. “The case went unresolved because they couldn't identify the body until now.”

DeSimone said Allegheny County police detectives were called in to investigate.

Williams said Myers was one of three unidentified people whose remains were in the morgue when he became Allegheny County Medical Examiner in 2007.

The remains of Myers and two other unidentified females were buried on June 10, 2009, at Woodruff Memorial Park in North Strabane Township in Washington County. Williams said his office ensured they had complete documentation on the women's remains before they were buried. He said Myers' DNA was sent to the FBI in 2009.

“It turns out this woman was reported missing in 2007,” Williams said. “The family contacted Pittsburgh police.”

He said there's only been national databanks of missing people for the past few years.

“There were coroners' offices all over the country that had clues but no central place to submit evidence,” Williams said.

He said the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, or NamUS, started in 2007, but really got under way in 2009.

“At that point some diligent employees from our office started to work with Pittsburgh police to correlate the missing persons we had and the missing persons they had,” Williams said. “That's what led to getting the DNA from this woman's family.

It wasn't until just last year, that the University of North Texas was given federal money to analyze DNA for missing persons.

Not only do we have a national database to identify missing people, but we now have the ability to identify the DNA.”

The medical examiner's office said Myers' family thanked Pittsburgh police detectives Sgt. Joseph Gannon, Carl Sanchioli and William Fleske for their efforts to find out what happened to the woman.

Neither county nor Pittsburgh police returned phone calls by presstime regarding the investigation into Myers' death.

Stacy Lee is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1970, or slee@tribweb.com.

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