On September 15, 2000, a teenage couple out for a stroll through Long Lake Regional Park in New Brighton, Minnesota, stumbled upon the mummified remains of a woman in a swampy area of the park.
The Caucasian woman was estimated to be between 25-50 years old,
5’5” tall with strawberry blonde to red medium/long hair. There was no clothing remaining, but one white tennis shoe was located near the body.
The woman’s cause of death could not be determined due to the level of decomposition; however, investigators believe she was the victim of a homicide and had possibly been stabbed.
NamUs ID: UP4808
Date Body Found: 9/15/2000
Estimated Age: 25-50 years
Estimated PMI: months
Agency of Jurisdiction:
Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office
Image Credit: FBI reconstruction
New Brighton, MN – The 22-year-old mystery surrounding the identity of New Brighton Jane Doe 2000 has finally been resolved thanks to the groundbreaking work of the DNA Doe Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to using investigative genetic genealogy to identify unidentified human remains. The project’s expert team was able to build a family tree using matches to the Jane Doe’s DNA profile, leading them to present her name to the New Brighton Department of Public Safety, who confirmed the identification of New Brighton Jane Doe 2000 as Gail Marlene Johnson of Minneapolis.
Johnson’s body was discovered on September 15, 2000, in Long Lake Regional Park in New Brighton. She had been outdoors for several months, resulting in the mummification of her remains.
“The genealogy in this case was challenging,” said Tracie Boyle, team leader for the DNA Doe Project. “Her maternal line came from Norway and her paternal line from Sweden. We were lucky to find the right paternal match that led us to her parents, and then to Gail.”
The team was also fortunate to locate a recorded oral history of Gail’s great-aunt from 1978, which is part of the collection at Minnesota State University Moorhead. “We’re often digging through records, so it was a treat to hear this great-aunt tell her family story,” Boyle explained. “Our hearts go out to the family and loved ones of Gail Marlene Johnson, who can now find closure after all these years.”
The discovery of Gail Marlene Johnson’s identity marks another milestone in the ongoing efforts to bring closure to cases of Jane and John Doe unidentified remains. It requires the tireless work of law enforcement agencies, forensic experts, and organizations like the DNA Doe Project using investigative genetic genealogy to resolve these cases. There is so much work still to be done, with more than 14,000 listings in the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUS) alone.
The DNA Doe Project is grateful to the groups and individuals who helped solve this case: the New Brighton Department of Public Safety, who entrusted the case to the DNA Doe Project; Astrea Forensics for extraction of DNA from hair and teeth; Intermountain Forensics Laboratory for whole genome sequencing and bioinformatics; GEDmatch Pro and FTDNA for providing their databases; our generous donors who joined our mission and contributed to this case; and DDP’s dedicated teams of volunteer investigative genetic genealogists who work tirelessly to bring all our Jane and John Does home.
Last Updated: September 15, 2023