Carl Koppelman put his art and tech skills to work in amateur forensics to help police connect seemingly unrelated crimes. Aware of how many dead bodies found in suspicious circumstances were unidentified, Koppelman recreated pictures of the deceased as a living person, hoping that they would be more recognizable by those who knew them. As a volunteer, he was instrumental in solving several cold cases. In 2009, he came across the 1999 case of an unidentified young woman found dead in Racine County, Wisconsin, where nobody knew her. Looking through missing persons reports, he saw the case of Aundria Bowman, who had been missing since 1989. Aundria was considered a runaway. Could she have been murdered ten years later?
Aundria and the Racine County Jane Doe shared physical characteristics, and their ages aligned: Aundria would have been 25 in 1999, when the Jane Doe was killed. Holland, where Aundria disappeared, sits directly across Lake Michigan from where the Jane Doe was found—it’s just four hours by car from one location to the other, tracing the lake’s southern shoreline and passing through Chicago. To test the possible identification, Koppelman created a composite image, superimposing Aundria’s photo with ones from the Jane Doe’s autopsy. He marked the similarities in red.
Koppelman took his theory to law enforcement, who found it compelling enough to investigate. To determine whether the Jane Doe was Aundria, police would need to compare DNA from the body with that of someone in Aundria’s family. Because Aundria was adopted, authorities had to track down her birth mother. Koppelman knew that could take a while, or that it might never happen, forcing investigators to find other avenues for identification.
But Aundria’s birth mother was found. Cathy Terkanian had no idea what had happened to the daughter she relinquished until someone called wanting DNA to identify a dead body. When she learned of the case, she teamed up with Koppelman to find Aundria’s killer. Their investigation uncovered a lot of other crimes in a story that is disturbing, to say the least. Read how Aundria Bowman’s murder was solved more than 30 years after she went missing at age 14 at Atavist magazine. -via Damn Interesting
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