After 25 years, a missing woman has been connected to a Jane Doe who washed ashore near Manistee.
Dorothy Ricker went missing in Milwaukee on October 2, 1997. Now police know she is the person who washed ashore near Manistee on October 27 of that year, all thanks to DNA technology not available way back then.
Ricker’s body washed ashore just south of the city of Manistee and at the time she had no identifying marks, no clothes, except for a single earring, and no one truly knew who this woman was or where she came from. After the advancement of DNA testing they are able to put a name to the victim, and also bring some closure to our family across the country.
“We’ve always had a pretty good idea of who the person was that washed up on shore,” said Lt. Derrick Carroll of Michigan State Police, “Just based on the timeline and what we knew, but we were never able to positively identify the person.”
In October 1997, there was no way to know who she was. No DNA test would tell and no nearby missing person reports matched up. It sat as a cold case until the Michigan State Police opened it back up two years ago. Forensic investigators exhumed the body and tested again.
“In December 2022, we were able to identify the remains using the DNA Doe Project and their family genealogy,” said Lt. Carroll.
The DNA Doe Project uses the best DNA testing procedures and compares that to genealogy databases to find family members, test them and narrow in on a name.
For this case they found Ricker’s brother in Maine and daughter in Chicago. With their help, they knew it was Dorothy.
“There are things we’re doing today, we couldn’t do even five years ago,” said Lt. Carroll.
The case was ruled an accidental drowning back then and that hasn’t changed. No charges will come of this. What will come, is peace of mind for her family who always assumed, but never exactly knew, what happened to Dorothy.
“In this case, it brought some closure to a family. We have a daughter here that we identified in Chicago and now she can say that was her mother and she has in fact passed,” said Lt. Carroll, “And this is what happened to her.”
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