On August 5, 1988, burned human remains were discovered along Beaver Creek, in the Willow Slough State Fish and Wildlife Area in Morocco, Newton County, Indiana. The area where the remains were found was described as sparsely populated with heavy vegetative cover. Forensic anthropologists who examined the remains determined they were those of a 18-45 year-old Black/African American female, estimated to be about 5’6” tall. Found with the body were a pair of jeans and a safety-pin stamped with the number “450”. Remains of another individual, identified as “Tony”, were found in the same location. The case is being pursued by DDP jointly with the Newton County Coroner’s and Newton County Prosecuting Attorney’s Offices.
NamUs ID: UP6107
Date Body Found: August 5, 1988
Race: Black / African American
Estimated Age: 18-45
Estimated PMI: Months
Location: Morocco, IN
Agency of Jurisdiction
Newton County Coroner’s Office and Newton County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office
Scott McCord, Coroner
Link to More Information
Image Credit: B. Cooper
On March 5, 2021, the Newton County Indiana Coroner’s Office (NCICO) positively identified a woman whose body was found along Beaver Creek in the Willow Slough State Fish and Wildlife Area on August 5, 1988, as that of Jenifer Noreen Denton from Joliet, Illinois. The DNA Doe Project (DDP) had been working with NCICO to identify the deceased using genetic genealogy since late 2019.
Jenifer Denton was born in 1963 and was twenty-four years old when she went missing from her Joliet home. She left behind her one-year-old daughter and all her personal belongings. When she was found, it was determined that Jenifer had been shot at least once in the head. This case is still considered to be open and further investigations are underway into this murder.
After exhausting all leads, the Newton County Indiana Coroner’s Office first reached out to the DNA Doe Project in late 2019. DNA extract was obtained from UNT Center for Human Identification. In March 2020, the DNA was sent to HudsonAlpha Discovery for whole genome sequencing. After data was obtained, bioinformatics work was performed by Kevin Lord of Saber Investigations in Belton, Texas, in May of 2020 to produce a file suitable for upload to genealogical databases. On May 7, 2020, the file was uploaded to GEDmatch. DDP was also given permission by the agency to upload the file to Family Tree DNA (FTDNA). This was completed on June 6, 2020. The top matches were distant cousins which represented both parents. The change in the Terms of Service at GEDmatch effective January 11, 2021, revealed a close relative match which led to the identification.
DDP wishes to acknowledge the contributions of those groups and individuals who helped solve this case: Newton County Indiana Coroner’s Office, Becky Goddard, Chief Deputy Prosecutor for Newton County, Indiana State Police labs in Lowell and Indianapolis, Indiana, Detective David Andrews, Indiana State Police; HudsonAlpha Discovery for sequencing; Kevin Lord of Saber Investigations for bioinformatics; and GEDmatch and Family Tree DNA for providing their databases, and the DNA Doe Project volunteers who tirelessly work to bring victims home.
For more information on the search for the identity of Charlene Doe Newton Co 1988: