Crime News Breaking News

‘Rising Fawn Jane Doe’ Found In Georgia 33 Years Ago ID’d As Missing Michigan Woman

"Today marks the day that we hunt for the killer," the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said following the identification of Stacey Lyn Chahorski, who went missing in 1988.

By Dorian Geiger

The remains of a Michigan mother who vanished more than three decades ago were found in Georgia at the time and finally identified using DNA technology this month.

Stacey Lyn Chahorski, who disappeared from Michigan 33 years ago, has been determined to be the person found dead in Dade County, Georgia on Dec. 16, 1988. Her body was found approximately five miles from the Alabama state line on a northbound lane on the I-59. For decades following the gruesome discovery, was known only as “Rising Fawn Jane Doe.”

On March 24, investigators announced they’d identified the missing Michigan woman.

"Today marks the day that we hunt for the killer," Georgia Bureau Special Agent in Charge Joe Montgomery told the media during a press conference on March 24.

Officials said Chahorski’s remains — which had been buried in a Dade County graveyard — will be reunited with her family in the near future. Chahorski was from Norton Shores, Michigan and, if she were alive today, she’d be 52.

Chahorski’s mother reported that she last spoke to her daughter by telephone in 1988, when her daughter said she was traveling to Flint, Michigan, and then to Muskegon, Michigan. Chahorski was officially reported missing in January 1989.

"Now we have a starting point," Montgomery said. "We already know where's she's from. Norton Shores [police] has done a lot of work on this case through the years just like we have. With that combined information, I think we have a good probability of solving this case and bringing the killer to justice." 

Over the years, lifelike clay renderings and composite sketches of the Michigan woman were created by forensic artists in efforts to identify her. For years, however, concrete leads as to the woman’s identity eluded investigators.

Interest in the unsolved case was renewed in the mid-2000s when new investigators were reassigned to its case file.

In 2015, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation approached the FBI about the possibility of using new DNA technology to develop a genealogical profile of the unknown woman. Evidence was then sent to an FBI lab in Washington, D.C., resulting in the creation of a DNA profile. That profile was uploaded to a national missing persons DNA database.

In 2021, Othram Inc.,a Texas-based DNA lab, was brought in by investigators to assist on the cold case. Using Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing, a DNA extraction was performed on Chahorski’s skeletal remains, resulting in an “comprehensive genealogical profile.”

FBI agents in Atlanta and Baltimore subsequently constructed a family tree and traced Chahroski’s distant relatives through extensive genealogical research using the new forensic profile, which ultimately identified her. 

“[They] did some great work to identify Stacey,” Dr. David Mittelman, the Chief Executive Officer of Othram Inc., told by email on Tuesday. “Othram was honored to assist the Dade County Sheriff's Office, GBI and FBI offices in helping bring Stacey back to her family.”

Othram Inc. has helped solve hundreds of cold cases in recent years using their patented Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing technology. The novel sequencing method allows geneticists to build a genealogical profile of a person, using the smallest trace quantities of DNA evidence even if that evidence has degraded or been damaged by the passage of time.

“Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing is allowing investigators, for the first time, to unlock important clues from previously inaccessible DNA evidence and this can be the difference between someone remaining unidentified versus being reunited with family," Mittelman said.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation declined to comment on the open case on Friday morning, as did a spokesperson for the FBI.

Anyone with additional information is urged to contact the Georgia Bureau Of Investigation at  1-800-597-8477 or by submitting an anonymous tip online.