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Law enforcement officials zero in on identity of I-985 remains
Woman's skull, bones found along interstate in July
Gwinnett County Police released this sketch earlier this month of a woman whose remains were found last summer off Interstate 985.

The picture is coming into greater focus of the remains of a woman found in July along Interstate 985 in Buford, according to officials.

As of Thursday morning, Gwinnett County Medical Examiner’s Office investigator Ted Bailey said 15 possibilities had been excluded.

The remains, which were discovered by a construction worker in the woods, have recently been examined by a forensic anthropologist.

“All of the information is entered into a national database that compares the unidentified remains with missing persons,” Bailey said.

The skull and bones were found in a suitcase along the interstate. Gwinnett County Police determined it does not match any missing persons cases in that county.

The latest description of the remains is a woman between 20 and 29 years of age, who stood between 5 feet 1 inch and 5 feet 5 inches tall. She had some spinal fusion with slight scoliosis and signs of healed left-side rib injuries.

In August, police previously released the victim was either mixed race, mostly white or Hispanic. Following the anthropologist’s examination, the race and ethnicity changed to “white, probably Asian Indian or Eastern Indian.”

Artist Jane Hemmer, who started in forensic art before her current work in fine art sculpting, said facial reconstructions in this field rely on having an accurate determination of the victim’s sex, race and age.

“We are all from a mixture of population groups, and generally what we want to do is we want to discern the population group that is most prominent in the skull,” she said.

Hemmer has worked on a handful of facial reconstruction cases and in 2012 trained police in Liberia in forensic art.

When determining the age of the skull, Hemmer said the clues are in the sutures of the head that begin to blur.

“The older we get, the less you can recognize the demarcations between all the sutures,” she said.

Bailey said the possibilities excluded have come through comparing dental records. The differences to look for, he said, were fillings, missing teeth or defects.

The investigator said there are another nine or so possibilities that do not have dental records that may need DNA comparison. The University of North Texas Center for Human Identification is working to extract DNA from the skeletal remains for comparison, but the process is unfinished, Bailey said.

“We feel confident that a family somewhere is missing this young woman,” police said in a news release. “By identifying her, we can try to bring closure to a family while trying to solve this crime.”

Anyone with information can contact the Gwinnett County Police criminal investigations division at 770-513-5300. Anonymous CrimeStoppers tips can be left at 404-577-8477. Tipsters can receive up to $2,000 for information leading to an arrest and indictment.