‘Grace Doe’ identified after 30 years with help of DNA from half-sibling

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MCDONALD COUNTY, Mo. (KNWA/KFTA) — A body that has been unidentified for the last 30 years in McDonald County, Missouri, has been identified.

‘Grace Doe’ has been identified as Shawna Beth Garber, born March 1, 1968.

The decomposed remains of ‘Grace Doe’ were found on December 2, 1990, by a couple walking on Oscar Talley Road, two-mile dirt drive through the rural farmlands of McDonald County. She had been hogtied and dumped behind a farmhouse.

She was given the nickname ‘Grace Doe’ by Detective Lori Howard in the 2000s because she believed it was “only by the Grace of God” that the young woman’s identity would be found.

In September 2020, the McDonald County Sheriff’s Office partnered with Othram in an effort to use advanced DNA testing and forensic genealogy to find the closest living relatives to Grace Doe.

The Sheriff’s Office received information from Othram in January that there were candidate relatives identified for Grace. These candidates were identified through genealogy research performed at Othram.

Lt. Michael Hall went down the list and contacted Danielle Pixler who was on the genealogical tree developed by Othram.

Pixler stated that she had a half-sister, Shawna Garber, that had been in foster care in Garnett, Kansas, and then went back into state care. Pixler said she did not know what happened with Shawna after she left foster care and stated she has been looking for Shawna for over 28 years.

In February, Pixler agreed to contribute a DNA sample and the Topeka Kansas Police Department agreed to take a sample.

On March 29, 2021, the Sheriff’s Office received a call from Othram saying the DNA sample from Danielle Pixler was a match to Grace as a half-sibling.

According to the press release, the next steps for the Sheriff’s Office will be to try and see if they can trace the whereabouts of Shawna Garber and what might have happened to her.

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