‘We can’t explain this one:’ NKY investigators struggle with cold case of drowned woman

A fraught investigation went cold after the woman was found in 1982.

Boone County detectives working to identify body found in 1982

BOONE COUNTY, Ky. (FOX19) - An investigation into the decades-old case of a missing woman found washed ashore on the Ohio River has been complicated by a piece of evidence that got lost along the way — namely, the woman’s hand.

Boone County authorities have been trying to identify the young woman’s body since March 1982.

Boone County Sheriff’s Office Det. Coy Cox says a man found the woman on the banks of the Ohio River on his property near Anderson Ferry.

Cox says authorities believe the woman drowned nearby and had been in the water for around six weeks when she was found.

Investigators have hit several dead ends trying to identify her.

“Sometimes you have to step up to the plate and say, ‘Hey, we can’t explain this one,’” Cox said. “No one has ever even called to say, ‘Hey, that could be this person.’”

Cox adds there isn’t even a missing persons report for the woman.

All they know is she was in her 20s or 30s, was around 5′5″ and around 135 lbs. Her hair was gone. They think she had brown eyes.

She had a scar on her big left toe and a scar on the top of her foot, according to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System.

She also had stretch marks and pierced ears.

Palm prints and finger prints were entered as well.

Then, according to Cox, the medical examiner severed one of the woman’s hands and sent it to the FBI for testing.

“But that hand is missing somewhere in the trail of things,” Cox said.

He explains they have no record of getting it back from the FBI, though the bureau did mail a letter saying they were sending it.

“It’s highly unusual,” Cox said. “It’s embarrassing. But I’m not blaming the FBI. I’m not blaming our forensics people. I’m not blaming our medical examiner. I’m taking the blame. I’m the one who’s in custody of the case in this point in time.”

He adds not having the hand frustrates him to this day.

“If we had that hand, there’s a possibility — it’s not a sure thing — but there’s a possibility something could be done with that,” he said.

If you have any information in the case or have a loved one who disappeared around that time with a similar description, you’re urged to contact the Boone County Sheriff’s Office at (859) 334-2175.

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