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Sunday, December 16, 2007

News: Still so many questions about Lillian O'Dare


Skeleton found after a decade, not identified for nearly two more

Special to The Globe and Mail

She was found because tenants were looking for more storage space.

It was spring, 1989. Sheila Adams, a graphic artist, was renting a rambling, three-bedroom house in Vancouver's eastside. She shared the space with a boyfriend and a tree-planting buddy.

"It was big and cheap," she said. "Great location. A short block off the Drive."

Artists and musicians had flocked to the streets surrounding Commercial Drive, taking advantage of low rents near a lively stretch of caf├ęs and restaurants.

At 941 Salsbury Dr., between Parker and Venables, Ms. Adams's gearhead boyfriend looked for a place to store car parts. In the basement, he found a small opening in the wall. The original porch upstairs had been closed in and added to a bedroom, part of which extended beyond the foundation.

The opening was sealed by a door on which four letters were crudely painted. The door had no hinge and had been nailed shut. It was pried open.

"There was a bunch of stuff in there," Ms. Adams said. "Suitcases. Garbage bags. Not thinking anything of it, we took it all to a dumpster."

After the junk was removed, they decided to level the dirt floor. Ms. Adams remembers hearing her boyfriend cry, "Uh, oh!"

His shovel had unearthed a skull. A bit of skin and hair was visible, but the remains had been there for some time. Police were called. The skeletal remains were removed, and the dirt sifted for evidence.

Police estimated the body had been there for about a decade. They were off by just one year.

Another 18 years passed before science could identify it.

This year, Forensics Magazine highlighted a new technology for DNA testing known as mini-STR (which stands for short tandem repeat), in which even small fragments of biological material can yield helpful information. The development will "make it possible for law enforcement to re-examine unsolved murder and sexual assault cases that have not been addressed for years," the magazine reported.

On July 9, the remains were identified, and five weeks later, the Missing Women Task Force revealed the victim was Lillian Jean O'Dare.

She had been reported missing on Sept. 12, 1978.

Read the full story here...



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