The mystery of the identity of a woman who was found dead in a dumpster in 1988 has finally been solved with genealogy technology, according to authorities.
Chong Un Kim, of Hinesville, Georgia, died at age of 26, according to a press release by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI).
On Feb. 14, 1988, “the GBI received a request from the Jenkins County Sheriff’s Office to assist with a death investigation,” per the release. “The victim, wrapped with plastic and duct tape, was found inside a large, nylon suitcase that had been placed in a dumpster just north of Millen, GA in Jenkins County.”
“The victim had been dead for about four to seven days,” the release continued. “The cause of death was asphyxiation. Throughout the investigation, fingerprints and dental records from the victim were compared to other missing persons from around the country.”
At the time, a forensic artist drew a sketch of the victim’s possible appearance, which was shown to the public.
“The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NAMUS) opened a case. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) also created and disseminated a computer-generated sketch,” the GBI said in the release.
Police tested the evidence again with better DNA technology, submitting it to the GBI Crime Lab, per the release. “Analysts found DNA on the items submitted, but the profiles obtained were not eligible for entry into the CODIS DNA Database.”
The GBI collaborated with Othram, a Texas-based company that “uses advanced DNA testing to solve cases,” by submitting forensic evidence in 2023 to develop a comprehensive genealogical profile of Kim.
After “Project Justice” funded the DNA testing, “a genealogical search produced investigative leads that led to Kim’s identification,” per the release. The GBI notified Kim’s family in October 2023 about her body being identified.
In 1981, Kim relocated to the US from Korea and lived in Hinesville near Fort Stewart before her death, according to the release. She has a sister who currently lives in New York.
Jenkins County Sheriff Robert Oglesby told local ABC affiliate WJBF-TV, “It’s still a good feeling to take one off the cold case list.” He noted he “inherited” the case from previous sheriffs. “There were several people that were talked to and thought they might have seen something, but nothing ever really panned out,” he added.
In a statement posted to Facebook, the GBI wrote, “There is still work to be done to solve the mystery surrounding Kim’s death, and we will work relentlessly to bring justice and closure to her family.”
The GBI is asking anyone who may have known Chong Un Kim, or has any information about this case, to contact the GBI at 912-871-1121. Anonymous tips can also be submitted by calling 1-800-597-TIPS (8477), online at https://gbi.georgia.gov/submit-tips-online, or by downloading the See Something, Send Something mobile app.
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