Body found in Lake Erie in 1980 identified as Michigan woman


SANDUSKY, Ohio (AP) — A body that washed up in 1980 along Ohio’s Lake Erie shoreline has been identified through DNA testing and genetic genealogy as that of a Michigan woman.

Sandusky, Ohio, police said Patricia Eleanor Greenwood was born in 1948 and had lived in Michigan in Traverse City, Bay City and Saginaw. Her decomposing body, clad in a size 12 “disco style” dress, was found in March 1980 on a Lake Erie beach in Sandusky, but had remained unidentified.

The U.S. Marshals Service revived the case “after finding an old teletype from 1980 in another missing person’s cold case file,” Porchlight Project, a nonprofit that funds DNA testing for Ohio cold cases, said in a news release.

Greenwood’s remains were exhumed in 2020 and skeletal samples were sent in 2021 to a forensics laboratory in Virginia after Porchlight Project agreed to pay for a genetic analysis.

The lab compared Greenwood’s DNA with data in a publicly accessible genealogical database and determined she was one of “12 children from the same family who were given up for adoption in Michigan,” the Porchlight Project said.

Sandusky police Detective Eric Costante said genetic data from one of Greenwood’s brothers that was already in that genealogical database determined she was his “direct relative.”

While a coroner couldn’t determine Greenwood’s cause of death, Costante suspects she was a homicide victim. Sandusky police continue investigating her death and ask anyone who knew Greenwood to call them at 419-627-5980.

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