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Human remains found 50 years ago in Florida are finally identified through DNA testing

By Amanda Musa, CNN

The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office has identified human remains that were found nearly 50 years ago with the help of genealogy testing.

During a news conference Thursday, Detective Bill Springer announced that the remains found in June of 1974 belong to 15-year-old Susan Gale Poole who went missing in Broward County just before Christmas in 1972.

Poole’s remains were identified following genealogy testing by Othram Labs, a private forensic laboratory that utilizes genome sequencing to build DNA profiles, according to Springer.

Late last year, Othram Labs contacted the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office about performing genealogy testing on cold cases.

“It was decided by the sheriff’s office and my supervisors that we would send up the unknown remains of the girl from 1974,” Springer said. “Thanks to Othram, they were able to identify her and build a profile.”

Scientists used that DNA profile to identify Poole’s mother and siblings. Poole’s mother is still alive and in her 90s.

Poole was born on February 12, 1957. At the time of her disappearance, Poole lived with her family at a Fort Lauderdale trailer park, according to the PBSO. Poole was also staying at a friend’s apartment in Wilton Manors at the time.

Springer says Poole’s skeletal remains were found tied up in the mangroves of an area formerly known as “Burnt Bridges” along A1A in Palm Beach County.

Detectives believe Poole may be a victim of Gerard Schaefer who was convicted in 1973 of two counts of murder in the first degree following the deaths of two Florida teens.

At the time of Poole’s disappearance, Schaefer was an officer for the Wilton Manors Police Department, Springer says. Schaefer was also employed by the Martin County Sheriff’s Office for less than a month in 1972, according to department records.

“Back in 1974, (police) did a search warrant on his house in Broward County,” Springer said. “They obtained driver’s licenses, jewelry, and other items belonging to various victims.”

Springer says he is now working with the Broward County Sheriff’s Office in the hopes of locating any items found at Schaefer’s home that may have belonged to Poole.

Schaefer died in prison in 1995, Springer says. Right now, there is no physical evidence, only circumstantial evidence, tying Schaefer to Poole’s murder, according to Springer.

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