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Body identified 31 years after biologist spotted remains in Nevada desert, police say

A woman’s body, found in a Nevada desert 31 years ago, has been identified as Linda Sue Anderson, police say. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department/TNS)

As a biologist trekked through a Nevada desert while conducting a tortoise survey nearly 31 years ago, they noticed something odd — a handmade quilt was buried beneath “several large rocks” in the dirt.

The biologist looked closer, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said in a Jan. 16 news release posted to X, formerly known as Twitter. They saw what looked like human hair and “smelled a foul odor of decomposition.”

After the biologist called police about the odd discovery near Tropicana Avenue and Durango Drive, the Clark County Coroner’s Office did an autopsy on the body, police said. The coroner ruled the woman’s death a homicide that happened in mid-to-late 1991.

When police were not able to identify the woman, she was named “Jane Tropicana Doe,” a name she would hold for decades as the case remained cold, according to police.

Police said they reached out to Othram Inc., a forensic genealogy company, in February 2023 to help identify “Jane Tropicana Doe.”

Genetic genealogy uses DNA testing coupled with “traditional genealogical methods” to create “family history profiles,” according to the Library of Congress. With genealogical DNA testing, researchers can determine if and how people are biologically related.

Othram created a “comprehensive DNA profile for the woman,” Otrham said in a news release.

The FBI used the profile to generate, identify and investigate new leads, then contacted the woman’s potential relatives, the company said.

Using samples from relatives, the woman was identified as Linda Sue Anderson, the company said.

Police said Anderson, who was 38 at the time of her death, lived in Henderson and had last spoken to family in June 1991.


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