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DNA testing confirms bones found in 1996 belong to Knoxville homicide victim

Brenda Clark's remains were found in 1996 by hunters. The TBI is seeking information about who may have killed her.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Almost 26 years after her bones were found in a box in Grainger County, the identity of a homicide victim finally has been made.

Now authorities need the public's help to find who killed Brenda Clark, 38.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation announced Thursday the identity finally had been made on Clark's remains. Hunters found them in September 1996 in woods off Dale Road in the Powder Springs section of Grainger County.

WBIR and other area media at the time reported that the remains had been found in a cardboard box on Joppa Mountain.

Investigators believe she was killed.

As they do on multiple unidentified remains cases, experts at the University of Tennessee Anthropology Department have kept and studied the bones through the years to try to identify her. They knew the bones were those of a female 30 to 40 years old.


But for decades she remained a "Jane Doe," unknown to authorities.

Then, in 2018, according to the TBI, a sample from the bones was sent to the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification. DNA from the sample then was put into an indexed national system of DNA data.

"In 2019, agents were notified of a possible match," according to a notice Thursday from the TBI.

The database hit led to a living Knoxville woman. It turned out she had a missing twin sister.

"To determine if the Grainger County Jane Doe was the missing sister of the Knoxville woman, additional DNA samples were collected from her and another family member and submitted to (the Texas center) for further analysis," according to the TBI.

Agents last week learned the remains indeed belonged to Clark, missing since 1996.

Clarks remains, which have been housed at the Forensic Anthropology Center will now be returned to her family.

The TBI is hoping the public will come forward with information about what happened to Clark and who may have killed her all those years ago. Investigators also would like to speak to people who may have been with her before her death.

If you have information call 1-800-TBI-FIND.

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