Detectives reveal how they cracked the Steuben County cold case

The date was September 6th, 1999. Steuben County Deputy Jeffery Sine was the first to arrive here at what is now the Glendarin Golf Club north of Angola. He knew at that moment it would be a tough case.

Posted: Jul 23, 2019 8:44 AM

STEUBEN COUNTY, Ind. (WFFT) - Sunday night we told you about a break in the 20 year-old cold case from Steuben County. The Steuben County sheriff's office says a Jane Doe found in 1999 is 36 year-old Tina Cabanaw. She was reported missing from Detroit in July of 1999.

"It was a report of a body in a field."

The date was September 6th, 1999. Steuben County Deputy Jeffery Sine was the first to arrive here at what is now the Glendarin Golf Club north of Angola. He knew at that moment it would be a tough case.

"We couldn't locate a purse, we couldn't locate any identification. Basically, it was a nude body that had decomposed."

But no one knew it would take 20 years to identify the woman as 36 year-old Tina Cabanaw.

"It's a rarity here in Steuben to have something like this, especially in that time, in 1999, back in those days to have something unfold the way that it did."

Detective Chris Emerick is the lead investigator on the case.

"I became a detective back in 2010 and when I took over in the detective bureau, that case has always been there in my office."

The case has been cold until ... "Last year I actually attended the FBI National Academy out at Quantico, Virginia and while there, the Golden State Killer case came about in the newspaper of how they solved that crime."

They solved that crime with the help of Parabon Nanolabs, the same technology used to help catch John Miller, the man who killed April Tinsley.

"My thought was everyone's trying to identify a suspect, why can't we use it to identify our Jane Doe using the same technology."

Investigators sent the DNA to Parabon which turned up a distant cousin. Emerick took it from there, eventually tracking down the daughter, who confirmed that it was Tina.

When Sine saw the photo and the composite sketch together "It was unbelievable to me. I mean, I kind of smiled and said I think you've got it."

"The indentifying of Tina has energized our investigation. It has brought life back into this investigation."

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