It’s a major breakthrough for the Pulaski County Sheriff’s office as a “Jane Doe” case that has been under investigation since 1981 has finally been solved.

Officials say that body has been identified as Karen Kay Knippers, a victim of an apparent homicide.

Deputies say they found the Knippers body at a low water crossing in May of 1981, but were unable to identify the body and thus she was buried with the name “Jane Doe.”

Detectives say they were able to enter her DNA information into a national database for missing and unidentified persons.

In order to get the DNA, the Sheriff’s office had to exhume the body and send the samples to the University of Texas center for Human Identification and Forensic Anthropology.

In 2016 the school released their findings and in 2019, the data was submitted to the DNA Doe Project in California, where they were able to trace it back to Knipper’s brother, who’s DNA was an exact match.


***Full Details From Sheriff’s Office***

Pulaski County Jane Doe identified after 40 years, to the day.

Pulaski County Missouri – The Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office and the DNA Doe Project announce the identity of a woman whose body was discovered on 25 May 1981 at a low water crossing near Dixon, MO. the victim of an apparent homicide.

After authorities were unable to identify the woman or any details involving her death she was buried in the Waynesville Cemetery in a grave marked “Jane Doe.”

In 2012, Lt. Dottie Taylor, Missouri Highway Patrol, Troop I, entered Jane Doe’s profile in the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System. Detective DJ Renno of the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office became interested in the case and requested approval to relook at the case. Approval was given by Sheriff JB King in 2012 to reopen the case. Sheriff Ronald Long and current Sheriff Jimmy Bench continued the investigation throughout the years searching for answers.

In 2015 Detective Renno, and Pulaski County Coroner Mikel Hartness with the concurrence of Sheriff Ron Long obtained a court order for the exhumation of Jane Doe’s remains to obtain DNA for use in identification.

The exhumation was conducted on 25 May 2015 with the help and assistance of numerous individuals and organizations including members of the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office, Coroner Mikel Hartness, Prosecuting Attorney Kevin Hillman, members of Waynesville City Hall, Waynesville Fire Department, Dan Cordry excavation service, Mr. Mark Beary (Anthropologist), members of the Waynesville Memorial Chapel, and police departments within the county.

In June 2015 the remains were transported to the University of North Texas, Center for Human Identification, Fort Worth TX. for DNA and Forensic Anthropology testing.

In January 2016 An Anthropology report was received on the remains.

In March 2016 a report was received that the extraction and development of DNA was successful.

In May 2016 Jane Doe’s remains were sent to the University of South Florida for forensic Imaging and Isotope analysis.

In January 2017 a report identifying the results from Isotope testing was received.

In April 2019 Jane Doe’s remains were submitted to the DNA Doe Project, in Sebastopol CA. The DNA Doe Project is a volunteer organization using Genetic Genealogy to identify relatives through DNA research.

December 2019 The DNA Doe Project provided a possible name of Jane Doe and the Name of a possible relative (candidate).

In January 2020 – Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office located a candidate (possible relative) in Alexandria VA. The candidate informed Detective Renno that he did have a sister that the family had lost contact with in the early 1980’s. The candidate (possible relative) agreed to provide a DNA sample for comparison / confirmation. The Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office in coordination with the regional managers of the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NaMUS) and the Alexandria VA, Detective unit to obtain a DNA sample. The DNA sample was obtained and submitted to NaMUS at the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification for the development and comparison of DNA.

In May 2021 – The genetic data obtained from Pulaski County Jane Doe and the candidate were entered into the Unidentified Human remains and relatives of Missing Persons indices of the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) and association between these samples were noted to be 19.4 million times more likely to be the biological sibling (Pulaski County (Dixon) Jane Doe) and of the candidate (possible relative) as opposed to originate from an unrelated individual.

Bottom Line: We now know the name of Pulaski County (Dixon) Jane Doe is
Karen Kay Knippers.