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Remains found by hiker in 1994 identified as missing Washington state woman

Susan Hoppes was reported missing from Pierce County, Washington on Aug. 9, 1993.

MONTROSE COUNTY, Colo. — Remains of a woman found dead nearly three decades ago near the Windy Point area of the Uncompahgre Plateau have finally been identified.

 A hiker found the body on Divide Road on July 7, 1994, and notified the Montrose County Sheriff's Office (MCSO).

Until recently the woman was only known as Windy Point Jane due to the location of where she was found. 

Last month investigators learned her name was Susan Hoppes. She was reported missing from Washington state roughly a year before her body was found.

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"Over the past 28 years there have been several investigators from different Law Enforcement agencies that were involved with the case of “ Windy Point Jane Doe," Sheriff Gene Lillard said. "It is truly remarkable that technology was able to give closure to the family of Susan Hoppes and to all that was involved in the case. It has always been a goal to determine who she was and what actually happened to her."

Her identification was made possible by advances in DNA technology.

Credit: Montrose County Sheriff's Office
Susan Hoppes

In August 2020, a commander with the sheriff's officers went to Lillard and asked to submit DNA samples to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in an effort to identify the woman. 

The agency hoped that forensic genetic genealogy, commonly known as familial DNA analysis could be used to find relatives and then ultimately ID the woman.

The cost was initially set at around $5,000  to submit the DNA but it was waived, according to the sheriff's office. Two investigators drafted a letter to the CBI asking for the DNA analysis and on April 19 of this year, Lillard got a call that the woman had been identified as Hoppes, who had been reported missing from Pierce County Washington on Aug. 9, 1993.

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The Montrose County coroner notified her family of the findings.

Hoppes' death is being investigated as a homicide and an MCSO commander traveled to Washington state earlier this month to meet with detectives and private investigators there.

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