Young woman murdered by state trooper 35 years ago is finally identified

Author:
Updated:
Original:

Thirty-five years after their daughter went missing, a family now knows what happened: She was murdered by a Minnesota state trooper.

The woman's body has been buried in a Blue Earth County cemetery for decades. But on Tuesday, state officials announced they've finally identified her as Michelle Busha, an 18-year-old from Bay City, Texas. (Watch the news conference below.)

Back in 1980, Busha was hitchhiking when she was assaulted and killed. Her body was dumped in a ravine off Interstate 90 in Faribault County.

She was reported missing on May 9, 1980

A farmer discovered human remains on May 30, 1980, which officials were unable to identify, and "Jane Doe" was interred at Riverside Cemetery in Blue Earth County.

Finally, over this past weekend, some closure.

“Advances in forensic science led us to information we couldn’t obtain in 1980," BCA Forensic Science Services Director Catherine Knutson said in a news release. "Key to our success was Michelle’s family’s decision to provide DNA samples. Without that information in the system, we would not know who she is today.”

Former state trooper Robert Leroy Nelson is serving a life sentence in Texas for Busha's murder, among other crimes, officials said.

He confessed to the murder of an unidentified hitchhiker nine years after Busha's death, but authorities were unable to determine who exactly the victim was.

Busha's body was exhumed last August as part of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension's unidentified human remains effort. DNA from her body matched with DNA her family members had provided in 2007.

Busha's body will be returned to her family, officials said.

The BCA's unidentified human remains effort is committed to resolving unsolved cases and providing answers to families with missing loved ones, BCA superintendent Wade Setter said in a news release.

There are 190 Minnesotans who have been missing more than a year, the release says, and currently there are 50-60 unidentified remains cases in the state, an officials said at Tuesday's news conference.

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.

Next Up

Andrelton Simmons / Minnesota Twins

Twins sign Andrelton Simmons to one-year deal

The former Angels shortstop is a four-time Gold Glove winner.

covid, vaccine

Minnesotans eligible for COVID shots only need to pre-register once for vaccine lottery

This is good news for people worried that they'd need to sign up every week.

police lights

2 people charged in separate Minneapolis homicides that happened hours apart

A woman is accused of stabbing a man in the chest over $60, while a man is accused of accidentally shooting a victim on the man's birthday.

House for sale

Despite pandemic, Twin Cities housing market set records in 2020

Sales were up 7.7% in 2020 compared to the year before.

Target store inside

Target unveils 'limited-edition' home, lifestyle collection with Levi Strauss

The new collection will be available in some stores and everyone online Feb. 28.

Tim Walz

Walz's $52.4 billion budget increases school spending, raises taxes on wealthy

He says the budget will help level the playing field and ensure all Minnesotans have a fair shot at economic recovery,

Screen Shot 2021-01-26 at 12.55.00 PM

Pictures from Minnesota GOP's Deadwood retreat show no masks, no distancing

The pictures were shared in Chair Jennifer Carnahan's latest email newsletter.

Alexus Norberg

Search for girl, 14, missing from St. Cloud

The teen left her home without her parents' permission.

coronavirus, covid-19

Here is Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Tuesday, January 26

The health departments provided new data daily at 11 a.m.

Related