Buried skeletal remains leave painful questions: What happened to Danielle Griffith?

VIDEO: Police investigate suspicious death after human remains identified

TUMWATER, Wash. — Danielle Griffith was only 17 when she reportedly left home in 2014 with only a cellphone and was never seen again. She was raised in Shelton, but police say she was last seen in Olympia.

Five and a half years later, Tumwater police received a call yielding the only clue in Griffith's disappearance.

Someone operating an excavator on May 17, 2019, to clear a wooded area near Sapp Rd. SW unearthed an entire skeleton that someone had clearly buried to keep a secret. No other clues suggested how the person died.

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It took bone researchers at the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification -- a lab specializing in identifying DNA from skeletal remains -- to confirm to Tumwater police that the bones were the remains of the missing girl.

The revelation unearthed another vexing mystery. What happened to Danielle Griffith after she disappeared?

"August of 2014 was the last time her family had heard from her," said Laura Wohl with Tumwater police. And since that time, no one that we know of yet, has had contact with her."

At first, Olympia police regarded Danielle as a runaway. Her family frantically searched for her, and they hoped to find some sign of activity on her Facebook page. The page and her phone were silent. They filed another missing person report in 2016, when Danielle would have been 19.

Now, Tumwater police are making an appeal for information to bring answers and justice to Danielle's grieving family.

"Anything at all that would help us track where she was and who she might've been with," Wohl said. "This family needs closure."

From a Tumwater police release: "The Tumwater Police Department is seeking the public’s help with establishing a timeline of events leading up to Danielle’s disappearance."

"Additionally, we are seeking information from friends and/or family who may have had contact with her or can identify known associates of Griffith between 2014-2018."

Anyone with information or tips is requested to contact the Tumwater Police Department at (360) 754-4192. If you would like to remain anonymous, you may contact Crime Stoppers of South Sound at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Please reference case no. 2019-01027.