For 27 years, authorities in California were unable to identify the body of a woman who was fatally struck by two cars while crossing Pacific Coast Highway in Huntington Beach.
Now, thanks to the use of a fingerprint database, "Jane Doe" has been identified as Virginia native Andrea Kuiper. She was 26 when the accident occurred on April 1, 1990.
Because of the trauma to her face, investigators could not release a photo of Kuiper after her death, the Los Angeles Times reports. Instead, they released a police sketch, as well as a computer-generated image.
The images were close enough that several people contacted police to say that the woman's name was Andrea. One person added that she may have been from Newport News, Virginia.
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But even though they had Kuiper's DNA, dental records and fingerprints -- and now her first name -- police were still unable to confirm her identity.
In 2010, Kuiper's information was entered into the newly established National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, known as NamUs. But there was no match.
Kelly Keyes, an Orange County supervising deputy coroner, has been working on cases like Kuiper's for more than a year. In 2016 she contacted Newport News police "to make sure they didn’t have any new missing person reports matching Andrea’s description." They told her they did not.
"We never forgot her and would regularly pull out her file to see if we could think of anything new to try," Keyes said, according to Inside Edition. "The investigators at the Coroner’s Office never stopped trying to figure out who she was, just as they do with the more than 90 unidentified decedents that we have."
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The mystery was finally solved thanks to collaboration between NamUs and the FBI. It turns out that Kuiper had a job with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and she had provided fingerprints along with her 1987 job application. Those prints were in an FBI database. The FBI shared the database with NamUs, and Kuiper was identified at last.
"We were very excited," Keyes said. "We’re here to serve the public and try to get a family answers and support the deceased. So to finally get Andrea a name was doing exactly what we hoped to do."
Kuiper had traveled to California at the age of 26. A few months before she was killed, a friend called Kuiper's family to report she was doing well. That was the last time her family heard of her -- until now.
"We are thankful to know what happened to our daughter after all these years," her father, Richard, said in a statement. "Andrea was loved and respected. She was beautiful. But she was manic depressive, and therefore we had been through quite an adventure."
Sources: Los Angeles Times, Inside Edition / Photo credit: Huntington Beach Police Department/Wikimedia Commons, OCSD via Inside Edition