DNA from partial skull identifies Redmond woman missing for 23 years

REDMOND, Wash. — Advanced DNA technologies led to the identification of an 18-year-old Redmond woman who was missing since 1990.

The King County Medical Examiner’s Office issued a death certificate for the victim, Erin MacGregor, nearly 23 years after her disappearance.

Police said MacGregor was last seen by her boyfriend at his house on Sept. 19, 1990.

Her car was found in an apartment parking lot in the Seattle neighborhood of Columbia City the following month.

On March 10, 2001, two men who were looking for shed deer and elk antlers near mile marker 39 off of Interstate 90 found what they thought was a partial human skull mostly buried in sand.  They packaged the item and called the Sheriff’s Office after they returned home.

It was determined to be human by the King County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Detectives arranged a thorough bone search in the area where the partial skull was found.  They also submitted the skull to several laboratories in an attempt to get DNA from the partial cranium, but the labs were unable to extract or identify DNA from the bone.

In March 2013, detectives sent the partial cranium to Bode Technologies for some advanced DNA testing using newly developed technologies.  Though the lab was able to extract DNA and submitted that it was very likely that the bone belonged to MacGregor, it was not enough to make a positive identification.

A few months later, detectives requested a tissue sample from the Medical Examiner’s Office from MacGregor’s deceased mother, Ann Schubert, and a liver sample was provided.  Detectives then sent the sample to the lab, which significantly increased the odds that the partial cranium belonged to MacGregor.

On July 30, the King County Medical Examiner’s Office had enough evidence to issue a death certificate for MacGregor.

The next day, Sheriff’s Office detectives notified MacGregor’s surviving family, her sister and father, who said they were relieved to finally know her fate and were pleased that detectives are still working the case.

Police said the case has since been reclassified as a suspicious death, that will likely evolve into a homicide investigation.

Despite being nearly 23 years old, the Sheriff’s Office is asking the public for tips regarding the disappearance and death of Erin MacGregor.  Anyone with information is asked to call 206-263-9021.


  • September 19, 1990:  MacGregor was last seen by her boyfriend at his house.
  • September 19, 1990:  King County Sheriff's Office deputy runs the license plate on MacGregor's car; however, the NCIC computer system was down and had no record of who ran the plate.
  • October 3, 1990: MacGregor's car was found abandoned in the Columbia City neighborhood of Seattle.
  • March 10, 2001: A partial cranium was found near mile marker 39 of Interstate 90.  It was was turned over to KCSO detectives.
  • March 19, 2013:  Bode Technologies finds that DNA from a partial cranium is a probable match to MacGregor.
  • March 29, 2013:  Detectives send tissue sample from MacGregor's mother, Ann Schubert, to Bode Technologies to try to firm up the numbers to identify MacGregor using mitochondrial DNA.  Mitochondrial DNA (MtDNA) is inherited solely from one's mother.
  • July 23, 2013: Bode Technologies found that the partial skull was 361,111 more likely to be a child of MacGregor's parents than from another random Caucasian sample.
  • July 30, 2013: The King County Medical Examiner's Office agrees to issue a death certificate for Erin MacGregor.
  • July 31, 2013: King County Sheriff's Office Major Crimes detectives notify MacGregor's surviving family, her father and sister, of Erin's identification and death.