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Posted on: September 15, 2023

Cold Case - Gail Johnson

January 1998

Gail Marlene Johnson

On September 15, 2000, two teenagers on a walk in Long Lake Regional Park found an unidentified woman’s body in a marshy area. Investigators believe she had been there up to two months. Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) forensic scientists obtained DNA from the remains but it didn’t match to anyone in missing persons or convicted offender databases. Despite exhaustive investigative efforts over the years, who she was and how she died remained unknown.

This past summer, investigators worked with Astrea Forensics to obtain the type of DNA profile that is required for genetic genealogy. Using this profile, the DNA Doe Project then searched public databases, ultimately identifying a likely genetic connection to Johnson’s family.

New Brighton investigators obtained a DNA sample from a family member in Minnesota and BCA forensic scientists confirmed the family connection.

“It’s been 23 years and we never gave up on finding out who this woman was and what happened to her,“ New Brighton Public Safety Director Tony Paetznick said. “Identifying her provides an important new clue as we continue our work to determine the circumstances of her death.”

Because of the condition of her remains, the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office could not determine Gail Johnson’s cause and manner of death, but investigators consider the circumstances suspicious.

Gail Johnson was 5 feet 7 inches tall, weighed 135 pounds and had light brown hair. She drove a black or gray 1989 Ford Mustang, had been a sex worker, and was known to spend time along Lake Street in Minneapolis. Her last known interaction with law enforcement was on July 11, 2000.

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