Wanda Herr, 19, was last seen in 1976, when she was living in a group home near the city of Gresham. The last known photograph of her was taken seven years earlier, when she was just 12 years old.
A part of Herr’s skull was discovered in 1986 by two U.S. Forest Service workers in a wooded area 70 miles away.
Several bone fragments, and a single human tooth were also uncovered at the scene.
At the time, investigators were left baffled by the remains, and were unable to link them to any missing persons registered in their databases.
It was not until last month – more than 44 years after her disappearance – that detectives were finally able to determine that the remains belonged to Herr.
Oregon detectives have teamed up with scientists to produce a sketch showing what Wanda Herr may have looked like at the time she vanished (right). Herr was a teenage runaway, and the last known photo taken of her was when she was 12 years old (left)
They performed forensic genetic genealogy testing, DNA phenotyping and extensive genealogical research to make the discovery.
A distant relative of Herr’s had likely uploaded their DNA to a genealogy website similar to Ancestry.com, inadvertently aiding investigators in the search.
From there, detectives were able to track down Herr’s sisters, who provided DNA samples. They matched with those taken from the remains.
It finally confirmed that the partial skull, bone fragments and tooth all belonged to Herr.
But the mystery was far from solved.
A part of her skull was discovered a decade later by two U.S. Forest Service workers in 1986 – 10 years after she disappeared
Herr was a teenage runaway, and the only photograph her relatives were able to provide was one taken when she he was just 12 years old.
Herr is pictured as a youngster. Her relatives had not been in contact with her for many years prior to her disappearance
Detectives, scientists and visual artists have now used that photograph and the remains of Herr’s skull to create the new sketch showing what she may have looked like seven years later – when she vanished without a trace.
Herr had no DMV record, no bank account, and there are no police reports that mentioned her.
Oregon police hope that the sketch will stimulate the memory of anyone who may have come into contact with Herr around that time.
It’s suspected Herr met with foul play,and any new tip-off could lead to her killer.
‘Detectives are working to discover more of her story — and learn what led to her disappearance and death. If you knew or met Wanda in the 1970s, we want to hear from you,’ Clackamas County Sheriff’s Sgt. Marcus Mendoza stated in a release.
Anyone who knew Wanda Herr, her associates or her whereabouts in the 1970s is urged to contact the Sheriff’s Office by phone at 503-723-4949