Woman found dead in suitcase in 1988 is finally identified as Georgia authorities work to “solve the mystery” of her death
A body found in a suitcase inside a Georgia dumpster 35 years ago has been identified as that of a South Korean woman, officials announced Monday.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said they used DNA analysis, paid for by donors, to determine that Chong Un Kim, 26, was the person whose body was discovered in rural Millen in February 1988.
Kim died from asphyxiation, but it’s unclear who dumped her body. She was wrapped with plastic and duct tape, naked inside a brown canvas suitcase that had been placed in a trash bin. A man trying to collect aluminum cans from the dumpster found the body. Investigators said Kim had been dead four to seven days when her body was found.
“There is still work to be done to solve the mystery surrounding Kim’s death, and we will work relentlessly to bring justice and closure to her family,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement.
Kim had moved to the United States in 1981, investigators said. She had lived for several years in Hinesville, which adjoins Fort Stewart and is 70 miles south of Millen.
Investigators were unable to identify Kim for decades, despite the use of fingerprints, dental records and a forensic sketch.
The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NAMUS) investigated the case and also created a computer-generated sketch.
DNA found at the time could not be matched. The body became known as “Jane Millen Doe” and “Jenkins County Jane Doe.”
“There were several people that were talked to and thought they might have seen something, but nothing ever really panned out,” Jenkins County Sheriff Robert Oglesby, who inherited the case from previous sheriffs, told WJBF-TV.
GBI recently send DNA evidence to Othram, a Texas company that tries to match DNA to unknown relatives using large genetic databases. Kristen Mittelman, Othram’s chief development officer, said that the company was able to build a DNA profile using genetic material from a blanket found with the body.
Georgia investigators said they notified Kim’s relatives earlier this month that her body had been identified. GBI agents told the television station that Kim’s sister lives in New York.
Project Justice, a donor group that seeks to solve cold cases, paid for Othram’s work.
The GBI is asking anyone who may have known Chong Un Kim, or has any information about the case, to contact the agency at 912-871-1121. Anonymous tips can also be submitted by calling 1-800-597-TIPS (8477), online at https://gbi.georgia.gov/submit-tips-online, or by downloading the See Something, Send Something mobile app.
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