"I-196 Jane" was a nameless woman whose skeleton was found by a hunter in the Michigan woods back in 1988.
This month, thanks to DNA and genetic genealogy tests financed by a local Kalamazoo, Michigan business, state police announced that they have identified the deceased 28-year-old woman and want to figure out what led to her demise.
“Through genealogy testing, we were able to identify I-196 Jane, as she'd been come to be known, as Marcia Bateman,” Michigan State Police Det. Sgt. Scott Ernstes told reporters during a Monday press conference from the law enforcement agency's Paw Paw post.
“This story began back on [Oct. 12, 1988] when a skeleton was found out in Covert, Michigan by I-196 and County Road 378,” he said.
Bateman had managed to travel all the way from her hometown of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to Covert, Michigan primarily by “catching rides” from relatives or friends.
“We are looking for any investigative means possible to figure out how Marcia made it from Oklahoma to Michigan,” said Ernstes, adding that her remains were discovered at Van Buren State Park, which is located along the Lake Michigan shoreline.
He said that the woman had managed to visit family in Los Angeles and Dallas before she was reported missing in August of that same year.
One factor for the stretch of time it took to identify Bateman was because her parents and other family members had already passed away prior to the launch of the National Missing and Unidentified Person database in 2007, according to MLive.com.
Ernstes told reporters that Bateman had turned to drugs and sex work.
"She was actually known to hitchhike and, all due respect to the family, I have spoken with them several times — they do know that she did have association to prostitute and was a drug user as well," Ernstes said.
He added that such a lifestyle "could potentially have caused something ill to happen to her.”
Authorities are calling out to drivers, passers-by, or any campers who may have seen anything out of the ordinary between August and October of that year.
"If you saw something suspicious, you never know what small detail could actually help solve this,” the detective said. “We're asking if you were camping out there or something struck you as odd... Maybe you saw her or a woman that maybe looked out of place. Just give us a call.”
So far, Bateman’s case remains unsolved and there are no known suspects.
Police ask that anyone who knew Bateman, those in the area between August 1988 and October 1988, and those who camped at Covert Park Beach and Campground or Van Buren State Park to contact authorities if they recall seeing something suspicious. They can contact investigators by calling 844-642-8384 or emailing MSP-51TIPS@michigan.gov.
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