DNA tests reveal identity of woman’s body found in 1980

Posted at 1:23 PM, April 5, 2023 and last updated 5:02 PM, May 2, 2023

By Drew Scofield, Tracy Carloss

CLEVELAND (WEWS) — On March 30, 1980 a woman’s body was found on the shore of Lake Erie in Sandusky. Her identity remained a mystery for more than four decades until genetic genealogy DNA testing revealed her identity.

The body has been identified by authorities as Patricia Eleanor Greenwood, born in 1948.

Dress worn by Patricia Eleanor Greenwood when her body was found.

Body found on Ohio beach in 1980 was identified as Patricia Eleanor Greenwood, who lived in Michigan prior to her death. She was wearing the dress pictured here. (Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office)

Her decomposing body was found on the beach. She was wearing a size 12 disco-style dress and had no hair, scars, jewelry or identifying items on her body. All police had to go on at the time regarding the unidentified body was that it appeared to be that of a woman between the ages of 20 to 30, about 5′ 5″ and weighing 120 lbs.

Recently, while investigating a separate missing person’s case file, the U.S. Marshals Service came across a teletype from 1980 regarding the unidentified woman.

The U.S. Marshals partnered with the Porchlight Project, a nonprofit dedicated to solving cold cases, to have the remains’ DNA tested. The Porchlight Project offered to fund the testing, and a tissue sample was sent in 2021 to the forensics lab Bode Technology which has previously worked with the nonprofit on other cases.

The firm analyzed the woman’s DNA and then looked through genealogy databases as well as evidence to “generate a single strong lead” given to the Sandusky Police Department.

The lead was a family tree of 12 children who were given up for adoption in Michigan. Police investigators tracked down a man who said he hadn’t heard from his sister in 40 years. Another family member told police her missing sister might have been working as a sex worker when she disappeared.

While Greenwood’s identity has been confirmed, the circumstances surrounding her death remain unresolved. Police said her death is being considered a possible homicide. Authorities are hoping that identifying Greenwood may prompt someone who may remember her to provide a tip about anyone she was with when she disappeared.

Anyone with information about Greenwood is asked to call Sandusky Police at 419-627-5980.

This story was originally published April 5, 2023 by WEWS in Cleveland, an E.W. Scripps Company.