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Clarksville woman missing for 30 years, identified in 6 hours with forensic technology

A researcher reached out recently to use new forensic techniques to identify who a decapitated head found in Illinois belonged to.

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. — Investigators say a Clarksville woman missing for 30 years was identified this week in just 6 hours. The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office in Illinois confirmed a decapitated head found almost 30 years ago is Susan Lund.

Investigators say a researcher, Dr. Amy Michael, at the University of New Hampshire, heard about the decapitated head when she grew up in Illinois. Authorities said that she offered them new forensic technology to help identify it.

When Crystal Lund thinks of her mother, Susan Lund, she only remembers so much before her mother went missing.

“I do have some memories of her,” Crystal recalls. “Like us walking to the store to get ice cream.”

She says she was 4 years old on Christmas Eve night of 1992.

“I remember my mom going to the store because I was upset cause my dad wouldn’t let me go with her,” she said.

Crystal said her mom was heading out to get a pumpkin pie for Christmas dinner, but she never returned. She said Susan Lund’s husband reported her missing.

One month later in Illinois, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office found a woman's head on the side of the road outside Wayne Fitzgerell State Park. Investigators said they did not know it belonged to Susan Lund, until this week.

“I think I made myself believe that she met someone else,” said Crystal.

“There was just never an identification made,” said Detective Captain Bobby Wallace with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

He said their small department did not have the right technology, but Dr. Michael reached out to re-examine the case and to use new forensic methods.

“This was a perfect case,” said Capt. Wallace. “There was really good DNA, there were really good markers, and there was a family member who participated in the program at some point. So, they were able to get a match pretty quickly and they were able to track that match up to the genealogy to Ms. Lund.”

He said that within hours they had a match.

“If it feels this good for us to do it, I can’t imagine what Ms. Lund’s family is feeling,” Capt. Wallace said.

“I was in shock at first, like denial,” Crystal said. “Everything went so fast, I was like, 'Oh my god.'”

She said that after years of Google searches and looking through articles, it’s possible she read about her mother and didn’t even know.

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office said they will reopen the investigation to try and identify who did this to Lund 30 years ago.

This story was originally reported by WSMV in Nashville.

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