One Mystery Solved, Another Reopened in Grisly Find

Decapitated head found in Illinois in 1993 identified as Susan Lund of Tennessee
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 14, 2022 8:33 AM CDT
29 Years After a Grisly Find, a Cold Case Is Reopened
   (Getty/Prathaan)

(Newser) – Forensic sleuthing has solved one 29-year-old mystery—the identity of a woman whose head was found in an Illinois park in 1993. But the development has raised a new question: Who killed the woman newly identified as Susan Lund of Tennessee? As Clarksville Now reports, Lund was a 25-year-old mother of three who disappeared on Christmas Eve of 1992 after leaving her house to walk to a grocery store. Police investigated but closed the case after a few weeks, concluding that Lund likely left of her own accord. Her husband and three children never heard from her again. About a month after she disappeared, two girls discovered a decapitated head at a park near Ina, Ill., about a three-hour drive from Lund's home in Clarksville, per the Washington Post.

Illinois investigators were unable to identify the remains, however, and both mysteries remained unsolved for three decades. That has now changed: A lab worked up a new DNA profile for the remains found in the park, and genealogical databases then zeroed in on Lund. DNA samples provided by her relatives confirmed it, according to Redgrave Research Forensic Services. As a result, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office in Illinois has launched a homicide investigation. "Our mission is still to find the truth about what happened to Susan,” says Sheriff Jeff Bullard. He also gave credit to Amy Michael, an assistant professor of anthropology at the University of New Hampshire, for work in reassessing the remains.

Lund's children were 6, 4, and 2 when she disappeared, and the new revelation provides some closure for the family, says sister Pamela Reyes. “I'm just speaking on behalf of her three children,” she tells the Southern Illinoisan. “They just really want people to know that they're grateful to find out that they weren't abandoned by their mother. She didn't leave her kids, not willingly. For her 6-year-old, her only son, it was really important for him to come to grips that his mom didn't abandon him.” (Read more cold cases stories.)

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