Exactly 43 years to the day after a woman’s body was found on the shores of Lake Erie, in Sandusky, Ohio, police have verified her identity as that of Patricia Eleanor Greenwood, born 1948. She has previous addresses listed in several Michigan towns, including Traverse City, Bay City, and Saginaw.
On March 30, 1980, the partially decomposed body of a young woman was discovered on the beach near Cedar Point Road. She was determined to be Caucasian, between the ages of 20-30 and estimated to be about 5’5” tall and 120lbs. The young woman was wearing a size 12 “disco style” dress. No hair, scars, jewelry or identifying items were found on her body.
The United States Marshals initiated this investigation after finding an old teletype from 1980 in another missing person’s cold case file. And in 2021, the Porchlight Project, a nonprofit dedicated to funding new DNA testing and genetic genealogy for cold cases in Ohio, offered to completely fund the effort to discover this Jane Doe’s identity. Sandusky Police Detective Eric Costante then sent a tissue sample to Bode Technology, a forensics lab which works closely with the Porchlight Project.
“The dedication and commitment of our partners in the Avon Lake Police Department, the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office, the Erie County Sheriff and Coroner’s Office, the Sandusky Police Department, Bode and the Porchlight Project solved this 43-year mystery and their outstanding teamwork brought closure to the family of Patricia Greenwood nearly five decades later,” says United States Marshal, Pete Elliott.
“The Bode Forensic Genealogy team is honored to have supported the Sandusky Police, Cuyahoga County, and Porchlight Project in this case and excited that it led to a successful identification of Patricia,” says Teresa Vreeland, Bode Technology.
“Bode received the skeletal remains in late 2021 at our Lorton, Virginia facility, and began the critical and sometimes challenging DNA extraction process. After having successfully extracted suitable DNA, high-density SNP testing was completed, which provided the starting point for the Bode FGG team. The Forensic Genealogy team utilized public databases, along with the other evidentiary information to generate a single strong lead for the Sandusky Police Department.
“This case, and similar cases, highlight the successful outcomes that can happen when advanced technology combined with the expertise and tools available to Genetic Genealogy are applied to cold forensic cases.
The genealogy work done by Bode Technology led to a tree in which twelve children from the same family were given up for adoption in Michigan. Detective Costante then spoke to one of the surviving brothers, who revealed that he had not heard from his sister, Patricia Greenwood, since around the time the body was found in Sandusky. A further interview with a surviving sister suggested that Patricia may have been a sex worker at the time of her disappearance.
“The Sandusky Police Department is grateful for the assistance of the United States Marshals, Porchlight Project and Bode Technology for their assistance with this investigation,” says Detective Eric Costante.
Sandusky Police confirmed Patricia’s identity on March 30, 2023, 43 years to the day after the discovery of her body. Her death is considered a possible homicide and they are releasing her identity in the hopes that someone from Michigan or Ohio may remember Patricia and who she was with around the time of her disappearance.
“Being able to give Patricia Greenwood her name back is the first step in finding the justice that she so deserves,” says Porchlight Project board member, Nic Edwards. “Thank you to the brilliant folks at Bode for the wonderful work that they do. Bode continues to impress and their assistances to those in law enforcement is making it more difficult for bad people to get away with bad things. Detective Costante and the Sandusky Police Department never gave up on this victim, even after all of these years. Now it is time for the public to come together and provide information about Patricia Greenwood to the detectives. Patricia needs your help.
If you knew Patricia Greenwood, please contact Sandusky Police at 419-627-5980.