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New DNA testing helps identify bones of woman missing since 1995

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The remains of a Wisconsin woman missing since 1995 have been identified thanks to help from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and updated DNA testing.

Susan Glaser, of West Allis, Wisconsin, was 36 years old when she went missing in July of 1995.

And now officials say bones – including a pelvis and two lumbar vertebrae – found in the Tomorrow River in Amherst, Wisconsin, (about 130 miles away) in 1998 are Glaser's, according to a news release from the Portage County (Wisconsin) Sheriff's Department.

The bones were submitted for DNA testing, but didn't match any known profiles. And after the sheriff's office exhausted all its leads, the case went cold.

Ramsey County asks for DNA profile

In February 2014, the Ramsey County (Minnesota) Attorney's Office requested a copy of the DNA from the remains, thinking it could be connected to a 1997 missing persons case they were investigating.

The DNA didn't match their case, but the attorney's office suggested the remains be tested again because DNA procedures have advanced over the years.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) conducted the test, and submitted the DNA analysis to the FBI's Missing and Unidentified Persons database (CODIS).

Match found – but results kept quiet

In July 2014, the BCA found that the DNA matched Glaser's profile in the FBI's database. The results of the match have been kept confidential since then so the West Allis Police Department could follow-up on new leads connected to the case without any potential suspects finding out about the new evidence, the sheriff's office says.

No suspects are in custody, the West Allis Police Department says, and Glaser's disappearance and the discovery of her remains are still being actively investigated with the help of officials in Portage County.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact Detective Vanderwerf of the West Allis Police Department at (414) 302-8079, or the West Allis Crime Stoppers at (414) 476-CASH (2274).

DNA testing

As DNA testing capabilities have advanced, forensic scientists have been able to identify the remains of people who have been missing for decades, even if the remains are in poor condition.

That's why the BCA, and agencies nationwide, continue to ask family members of those with missing loved ones to submit DNA samples (it just takes a swab from the inside of their cheek). The hope is that more DNA, along with new testing capabilities, will help officials identify remains and close missing persons cases.

It's part of the BCA's unidentified human remains effort. There are about 198 Minnesotans who have been missing more than a year and there are about 50-60 unidentified cases in Minnesota, the BCA said in March 2015.

The BCA has identified five long-term unidentified remains using DNA and matched it to the FBI's Missing and Unidentified Persons database, Jill Oliveira with the BCA told BringMeTheNews.

There are roughly 40,000 sets of unidentified remains held in medical examiners offices across the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

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