New efforts to identify 1990 murder victim in McDonald County

Unidentified Person, Namus #up5321, Mcdonald Co., Mo.

MCDONALD COUNTY, Mo. – The McDonald County Sheriff’s Office partners with Othram to use advanced DNA testing and forensic genealogy to try and find the identity and closest living relatives to “Grace Doe.”

On Dec. 2, 1990, a couple walking on Oscar Talley Road in the southwestern part of McDonald County found the decomposed remains of a young woman not far from the road. The Sheriff’s Office says the victim had been hog-tied and was dumped behind a rural farmhouse.

In the 2000’s, Detective Lori Howard nicknamed the woman “Grace Doe.” Howard believed it was only by the Grace of God that the young woman’s identity would be found, according to the McDonald County Sheriff’s Office.

An autopsy revealed that “Grace Doe” had been raped and strangled about two months before her body was found. She was restrained with six different types of bindings: nylon and lead ropes, coaxial and telephone cables, paracord and clothesline.

The Sheriff’s Office says investigators determined that the paracord was military grade MIL-C-5040H type II, a rope that was exclusively sold to the military in the 1990’s.

But without more information, her case went cold.

“Grace Doe” is described as of White or Native American descent, 21-31 years old, standing 5’1’’- 5’4’’ tall and weighing around 120 pounds. She had shoulder length, dark auburn hair. She was wearing a denim jacket with a white t-shirt, “Lee” brand blue jeans, and white high-top tennis shoes.

Investigators initially thought that “Grace Doe” and her abductor were from the area, but now believe this is not the case. The Sheriff’s Office says “Grace” had extensive dental work that was not normal for the rural county of McDonald in the 1990’s, leading them to believe she was from a bigger city in the 4-State area.

Oscar Talley Road is a two-mile dirt drive through rural farms in the County, but is less than a mile from current Interstate 49 (71 Highway at the time). So, authorities think that “Grace Doe” was abducted elsewhere and dumped on the rural dirt road.

Sheriff Hall says she’s McDonald County’s only unidentified body.

Anyone with information that could aid the investigation is encouraged to contact the McDonald County Sheriff’s Office at (417) 223-4319. A fund has been established to cover the costs of testing for this case. This case is logged in NamUs as UP5321.