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Human remains found in New Lenox identified

Human remains discovered more than 40 years ago in New Lenox have been identified as a woman who was last seen in Ohio.

The partial skeletal remains were identified as Brenda Sue Black, who was last seen Jan. 1, 1980, in Vandalia, Ohio, Will County Coroner Laurie Summers said.

Summers announced the major break in the cold case in a statement Wednesday. Officials from her office received conformation that DNA samples provided by Black’s daughter were a match to the remains found in 1981.

Black’s remains were discovered April 19, 1981, by a person collecting cans in the area of Interstate 80 and Route 30 in New Lenox, Summers said. Illinois State Police responded to the incident.

Summers’ cold case investigators, Gene Sullivan and Jim Cardin, obtained a DNA sample from the remains in 2009.

In May 2015, Allie Black, who lived in Miami County, Ohio, watched a TV show about missing persons and decided to report his sister Brenda Black as missing, Summers said.

The Miami County Sheriff’s Office entered the information into National Missing and Unidentified Persons System.

Summers said she approved funding for submission of several cases to Othram, a Texas-based forensic DNA laboratory, in an effort to identify cases of unidentified remains in Will County.

Othram officials notified Sullivan that their genealogists had narrowed the search to two close relatives of Brenda Black, Summers said.

“Will County Coroner’s cold case investigators performed a search and was able to find Brenda Black’s relative in Georgia, who agreed to provide a DNA sample,” Summers said.

Joe Piper, another Summers cold case investigator, contacted the investigation unit of the Gwinnett County State’s Attorney’s Office in Georgia and requested a secure DNA sample, she said.

Those state’s attorney officials secured the sample that was eventually sent to Othram, Summers said. Othram then confirmed that the DNA sample matched Brenda Black.

Summers thanked the work of the Miami County Sheriff’s Office, Gwinnett County State’s Attorney’s Office, the University of North Texas and Othram for their contributions to the investigation.

“The Will County coroner continues to urge family members of missing persons, to contact your local law enforcement agencies to provide a DNA sample,” Summers said.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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