The Portage Police Department and the Monroe County, Mich., Sheriff’s Office
are reporting the identification of a Portage woman who was allegedly the
victim of a homicide in 1982.
Formally known as “Monroe County Jane Doe 1982”, Kimberly Wuerthele’s family
reported her missing on June 22, 1982 after they had not seen her since she
jumped from a car in February that year when family members were taking her
to Chicago to get her help for an addiction problem, police said. Wuerthele
was 21 years old at the time.
On March 31, 1982 an unidentified female body washed up on Lake Erie in
Monroe, Mich. and the case was ruled a homicide after an autopsy was
performed, police said.
In 2008, Portage Detective Corporal Janis Regnier began looking for possible
leads in the case through dental records and state driver’s license
databases but was unsuccessful.
Monroe County Police in March 2009 exhumed Wuerthele’s body for the purpose
of obtaining DNA for identification purposes. Along with several agencies
including the FBI’s Detroit Field Office, DNA specimens were collected and
sent to the University of North Texas Health Science Center for entry into
the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) and NamUs, an online database where
family, law enforcement and coroners or medical examiners can upload
information on missing persons and unidentified remains.
Regnier also found out about the new DNA database at the University of North
Texas which tests family DNA in hopes of matching it up with the DNA from
the remains of unidentified persons.
In February 2011, Regnier was able to locate Wuerthele’s two brothers and
one agreed a year later to submit his DNA for the database.
On July 2, 2012 the DNA was subsequently matched to the remains of “Monroe
County Jane Doe 1982.”
The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office is still actively pursuing the homicide
investigation. Anyone with information about the case of Kimberly Wuerthele
is urged to contact Detective Jeff Pauli of the Monroe County Sheriff’s
Office at (734)240-7530 or (734)240-7745.