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

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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.

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