Dewine’s LINK program helps identify remains found in 2008

For Greene County News

COLUMBUS – Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced Thursday that remains found in Holmes County nearly seven years ago have now been identified as a missing Toledo woman. The identification was made possible through Ohio’s LINK (Linking Individuals Not Known) Program, offered by the Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) at no cost to police, coroners, and families of missing individuals.

The skeletal remains, found in September 2008 along Township Road 26 in Holmes County, were identified this week as Cheryl Wilson of Toledo. Wilson was last seen in Toledo in September 2007.

The LINK Program was established through the Attorney General’s Office in 1999 to help match DNA taken from family members of missing individuals to DNA from unidentified remains. Samples of DNA submitted by family members as part of the LINK Program are compared only to DNA samples of unidentified remains submitted through similar programs nationwide.

Authorities submitted DNA from Wilson’s then-unidentified remains to BCI for inclusion in the LINK Program in 2008. In December 2014, several of Wilson’s family members submitted their DNA for testing after contacting BCI for assistance in locating her. BCI then coordinated with scientists at the University of North Texas who conducted mitochondrial DNA testing for comparison with unidentified DNA in the national database.

“We want Ohioans to know that BCI offers this free service to help facilitate this highly specialized DNA testing,” said Attorney General DeWine. “I urge anyone with a missing family member to consider submitting their DNA to BCI for testing as part of the LINK Program because it could help bring answers.”

Wilson’s cause of death was ruled undetermined, however an investigation is currently underway by both the Holmes County Sheriff’s Office and Toledo Police Department.

“We would have never had an identification in this case if not for the help of the Attorney General’s Office and Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation,” said Holmes County Sheriff Timothy Zimmerly. “First and foremost we wanted to get her identified, and now we need to find out what happened and how she ended up here.”

A Montgomery County man whose skeletal remains were found in a Dayton home in 2014 was also identified this month through the assistance of the LINK Program.

So far, family members of 140 missing people in Ohio have submitted their DNA for testing as part of the LINK Program, and law enforcement and coroners have submitted the DNA of 44 unidentified individuals who were found deceased.

The identification of Wilson’s remains marks the 30th identification made through Ohio’s LINK Program since its inception.

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