DNA testing helps identify remains of woman missing for 41 years - KPTV - FOX 12

DNA testing helps identify remains of woman missing for 41 years

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Martha Morrison (photo: Clark County Sheriff's Office) Martha Morrison (photo: Clark County Sheriff's Office)
Martha Morrison (photo: Clark County Sheriff's Office) Martha Morrison (photo: Clark County Sheriff's Office)
VANCOUVER, WA (KPTV) -

Human remains found in rural Clark County more than 40 years ago have finally been identified as those of a missing woman.

Martha Morrison was reported missing in September 1974.

In October of that year, detectives found the skeletal remains of two women in the Dole Valley area of Clark County.

Early in the investigation, detectives were able to identify one of the bodies as Carol Platt Valenzuela, but the identity of the other body eluded them.

Several agencies spent approximately three years trying to identify the other body without any luck, and the remains were thought lost.

Then, in 2011, Nikki Costa, an operations manager for the Clark County Medical Examiner's Office, located the remains and sent them to a lab in Virginia for DNA analysis, which wasn't available in the 1970s.

Over the next several years, labs were able to find a weak link between the remains and a number of people related to Martha Morrison.

Finally, in June 2015, Morrison's father's body was exhumed in Phoenix, Arizona and samples of tissue were taken, which the lab in Virginia compared to the DNA from the unidentified body.

The lab reported it was more than 99 percent certain the body was that of Martha Morrison.

Costa said she was glad to be able to offer the Morrison family some closure in the case.

"To be able to call her sister and let her know, with confidence, that what did happen to her sister and that she has been positively identified after they've waited over four decades is indescribable, honestly," Costa said.

Though both bodies have been identified, detectives haven't identified a suspect in the women's deaths.

Morrison had a boyfriend, who was African-American with light skin.

Anyone who remembers the couple or who has information on the case should call the Clark County Sheriff's Office cold case tip line at (360) 397-2036.

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