DNA from tooth helps identify remains of missing Olympia woman found in Oregon

The remains of a woman found in an extremely remote, wooded area off of a US Forest Service road in Oregon has been identified as a woman missing out of Olympia. 

Then 47-year-old Grace Lorna Narvaez-Weaver was last seen at the downtown Olympia Post Office in July 2019. 

According to the Olympia Police Department, she was last seen talking to an unknown man about going to California. OPD said she suffered from seizures, which required medication, and suffered from a mental illness. 

On April 4, 2020, the remains of a partially-skeletonized person were discovered 13 miles east of Sweet Home in Linn County, Oregon. The remains appeared to be female and "several distinct articles of clothing" were found with the body. 

When a medical examiner determined that the body was likely a white woman between 30 and 50 years old at the time of her death. 

The DNA profile of the deceased woman was uploaded into the national DNA database, CODIS, in hopes of getting a match. Unfortunately, no genetic associations to missing persons or family reference standards in the CODIS database were found. 

A sample from her tooth was sent to DNA Labs International, and a different type of DNA profile was produced for DNA Phenotyping and Investigative Genetic Genealogy provided by Parabon NanoLabs ("Parabon").

The sample from the tooth helped create a more-accurate forensic illustration of what the woman might have looked like was released to the public.

An investigative genetic genealogy report authored by Parabon NanoLabs and released in August 2022 immediately provided the strongest investigative lead yet, identifying the woman as Narvaez-Weaver. 

The 2D rendering of her looked similar to a photo from her Facebook from 2008. 

In September 2022, Linn County Sheriff’s Office detectives approached the family with the possibility that the body at Oregon’s state medical examiner’s facility could be Narvaez-Weaver. A family member of Narvaez-Weaver's provided an oral swab sample to be compared to the DNA of the unknown female.  

The DNA match was consistent with a parent/child relationship, which confirmed the identity of Narvaez-Weaver. 

"Grace’s case is an excellent example of how advanced technologies like investigative genetic genealogy (IGG) and phenotyping can be used to help resolve a case before it goes cold. The Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office knows the power of IGG and phenotyping and recognized these techniques would be effective in this active investigation. They didn’t want Grace’s case to go cold, and it didn’t. My colleagues and I are honored to have been able to help give Grace back her identity.," said CeCe Moore, Parabon’s Chief Genetic Genealogist.

The investigation into her cause of death is on-going.