Unidentified body found in 1999 identified as metro Detroit woman

Posted at 10:55 AM, Jul 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-22 11:07:11-04

STEUBEN COUNTY, Ind. (WXYZ) — An unidentified body found in Indiana in 1999 has been identified as a Detroit-area woman, Tina L. Cabanaw.

According to the Steuben County Sheriff's Office, a genetic data profile created from a DNA sample taken from the body was by DNA Labs International in Florida. The sample was submitted to a public genetic genealogy database for comparison in hopes of finding people who share significant amounts of DNA with the unknown subject.

Authorities say the genetic matches served as clues to inform traditional genealogy research.

Leads from genetic matches provided the sheriff's office with a family tree dating back to the mid-1800s and a list of three potential family relatives determined by the genealogist to potentially be the fifth or sixth cousin of the unidentified body.

Then, an investigator from the sheriff's office contacted these relatives to obtain more information about family. Authorities say the investigator was able to locate a potential daughter of the unidentified body that was confirmed through kinship DNA testing.

This DNA sample identified the body as Cabanaw's, who was reported missing to the Detroit Police Department in July 1999 and was never located.

Her next of kin has been notified of the identification, authorities say. As a result, the sheriff's office is continuing the investigation of her death. Anybody with information regarding the case should contact the Steuben County Sheriff's Office Tip Line at 260-668-4646 or Crime Stoppers at 260-668-STOP.