Authorities exhume body in 1980 murder Technology may help ID victim

Published 10:13 am Thursday, August 14, 2014

BLUE EARTH — Authorities exhumed the body Tuesday of a woman discovered dead in 1980 in a rural Blue Earth drainage ditch in hopes of discovering her identity with new technology.

The woman, known by police as Jane Doe, was dug out of the Riverside Cemetery in Blue Earth by the Faribault County Sheriff’s Office, in conjunction with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, according to a press release.

A farmer originally discovered Jane Doe on May 30, 1980, in rural Blue Earth in a drainage ditch along Interstate 90 between the Blue Earth and Frost exit.

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The perpetrator, Robert Leroy Nelson, was an on-duty Minnesota State Patrol trooper. He confessed to the crime nine years later. The woman was an apparent hitchhiker.

The press release states the Faribault County Sheriff’s Office has received hundreds of leads during the last 34 years on the identity of the woman, and officials hope an accurate record of her DNA profile could match her to any of her family members.

Also assisting with the investigation and exhumation was the Southern Minnesota Regional Medical Examiner’s Office, the Midwest Association of Forensic Scientists, a forensic anthropologist, the Blue Earth Police Department, Patton Funeral Home, Faribault County Attorney Troy Timmerman, G&S Drainage and Excavation and The Riverside cemetery maintenance and grounds crew.

Anyone with information about Jane Doe or the case is asked to contact the Faribault County Sheriff’s Office at 507-5276-5148.