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Remains exhumed in 23-year-old cold case

LONGVIEW, Wash. — The remains of an unidentified woman who was killed in a collision were exhumed from an unmarked grave at the Longview Memorial Park and Cemetery Wednesday.

The remains are that of the last unidentified person buried in Cowlitz County.

The remains will first be taken to King County for facial reconstruction by a forensic anthropologist, then move on to the University of Northern Texas for DNA extraction and entry into the DNA databases in hopes of finding a match or a relative.

The remains will then return to the Cowlitz County Coroner’s Office where they will be kept in anticipation of being reunited with the victim’s family.

In May 1991, the unidentified woman was a passenger in a semi truck on Interstate 5 near Kalama.  The semi was involved in a collision and burst into flames.  Both the man who had been driving and the unidentified woman were killed.

During the investigation, it was discovered that the woman was not an authorized passenger.  The fire destroyed any identification she may have been carrying.

Over the next 23 years, Washington State Patrol detectives have worked on attempting to identify the woman.  For almost a decade, Detective Greg Wilcoxson has worked on the task and said he is hopeful this is the final step in the process.

“This could not have happened without the help of a lot of people,” said Wilcoxson.

“Once the facial reconstruction is complete, we hope to get that picture and information out to as many people as we can,” said Moate.  “Although this was not a criminal case, we were determined to identify this young lady and do everything we could to get her home.”