A foot that was discovered near a river in northwest Washington in 2021 has finally been identified as a woman who went missing more than five years ago, authorities said. 

There was a report of a foot in a sneaker near the mouth of the Elwha River in Port Angeles, Washington, in December 2021. This was just south of the border between the United States and Canada. The sheriff’s office said that investigators found a small New Balance shoe for a woman, but that was all they could find at the time.

Authorities were finally able to prove that the foot belonged to 68-year-old Jerilyn L. Smith after more than a year, with the help of DNA testing.

Cold case: Found foot leads to ‘a mystery’

There was “limited recovery” of the remains, so investigators from the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office were unable to figure out anything about the woman’s physical traits when the foot was found.

“Despite our best efforts, we still don’t know who the woman is.” “The case eventually went cold because investigators didn’t have many leads to follow,” the police said in January, asking the public to help them find the woman.

DNA testing helps identify Jerilyn L. Smith

Authorities worked with Othram, a private lab in Texas, in 2022 to see if forensic DNA testing could help identify the woman or a close family member. DNASolves helped raise money for the test through crowdfunding.

The lab finally came up with a possible ID, along with a list of family members who were still alive. The police called one of the possible family members, and that person voluntarily gave the Othram Labs a DNA sample. The lab confirmed a match and found that the foot belonged to Smith.

What we know about Jerilyn L. Smith

It was found that Smith is from Sequim, which is about 20 miles east of where her foot was found. She wasn’t seen or heard from on January 7, 2018.

Sheriff Brian King of Clallam County told that Smith was likely to have drowned in the month she disappeared, and a d*eath certificate has been issued.

The police said Smith’s family was thankful that the crowdfunding helped identify the bodies.

“The Clallam County Sheriff’s Office would also like to thank all those who participated in funding the DNA research on this case that ultimately helped a family with having some semblance of closure during the grieved loss of their loved one,” spokespeople said.

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