Betty Lou Wisley : “Remains of Roane County Jane Doe Identified through DNA Testing: Betty Lou Wisley”

Death – Obituary – Accident and Crime News : Roane County, TN – Authorities have finally identified the remains of a woman found in 1987 thanks to a collaborative effort between the Roane County Sheriff’s Office and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Unidentified Human Remains DNA Initiative.

The discovery was made on August 29, 1987, when a passer-by stumbled upon a body near a garbage dumpster on Highway 58 in Kingston. Forensic experts determined that the victim was a Caucasian female, estimated to be between the ages of 35 and 50. Tragically, the victim had been burned postmortem and carelessly discarded beside the dumpster. Despite the efforts of the Roane County Sheriff’s Office at the time, technological limitations prevented them from identifying the victim, and she was labeled as Jane Doe.

Over the years, authorities continued their attempts to uncover the identity of the Roane County Jane Doe. In 2009, the University of Tennessee Forensic Anthropology Center submitted a sample of the remains to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for DNA profiling. However, it yielded no significant leads. Undeterred, in April of this year, as part of the Unidentified Human Remains DNA Initiative, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation enlisted the assistance of Othram Inc., a private lab in Texas specializing in forensic genetic genealogy (FGG) DNA testing.

Scientists at Othram were able to generate a DNA profile from the remains and compare it to the DNA of possible relatives. Their diligent efforts paid off when they established contact with a family member last month. The familial DNA was then compared to the unidentified woman’s DNA, leading to a positive identification. The woman has been identified as Betty Lou Wisley, born on December 30, 1935, originally from Clinton, Missouri, and residing in or near the Knox County area at the time of her death.

With the identification now established, investigators from the Roane County Sheriff’s Office and TBI special agents are urging the public to come forward with any information regarding the events leading up to Betty Lou Wisley’s death. Specifically, they are seeking details about individuals she may have been with before her untimely demise. The Roane County Sheriff’s Office can be reached at 865-717-4722, or tips can be emailed to

This breakthrough in identifying the Roane County Jane Doe is a testament to the advancements in forensic technology and the tireless dedication of law enforcement agencies. It is hoped that with the public’s assistance, the circumstances surrounding Betty Lou Wisley’s death will be brought to light, providing closure for her loved ones and justice for her tragic end.

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