Body found wrapped in plastic in Georgia dumpster 35 years ago identified

Chong Un Kim, 26, immigrated to the US in 1981 (Georgia Bureau of Investigation)
Chong Un Kim, 26, immigrated to the US in 1981 (Georgia Bureau of Investigation)

A body found wrapped with plastic and tape inside a suitcase dumped in a Georgia dumpster more than three decades ago has finally been identified thanks to DNA testing.

Chong Un Kim, 26, immigrated to the US in 1981 and lived in Hinesville in Liberty County until her remains were found on 14 February 1988.

Authorities in Jenkins County believed that Kim had been dead for between four and seven days when her body was discovered. The official cause of death was given as asphyxiation and an investigation was launched.

Investigators initially used fingerprints and dental records to try and compare their Jane Doe to missing women across the country but with no success.

A Georgia Bureau of Investigation sketch artist created an image of what the victim might have looked like, and cases were opened by a string of missing person groups.

As DNA testing improved over the years, investigators submitted evidence to the GBI crime lab for analysis but the profiles obtained were not eligible for entry into the DNA database used by US police and the FBI.

Officials say that the cold case investigation made major progress earlier this year when the GBI partnered with Texas-based DNA testing company Othram, Inc.

Othram specialises in Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing to develop comprehensive genealogical profiles.

Using forensic evidence in the case, Othram performed DNA analysis and a genealogical search that created new leads and led to the identification of Chong Un Kim.

“We tested the blanket that had some DNA from her transferred on to it. We were able to build a DNA profile,” said Dr Kristen Mittelman, the Chief Development Officer for Othram.

Investigators were finally able to contact the victim’s family earlier this month and tell them that they had identified Kim.

“There were several people that were talked to and thought they might have seen something, but nothing ever really panned out,” Jenkins County Sheriff Robert Oglesby told WJBF-TV.

“I inherited this one, but it’s still a good feeling to take one off the cold case list.”

The DNA analysis was paid for by Project Justice, a donor group that seeks to solve cold cases.

The GBI is now looking to speak to anyone who may have known the victim or has any information about the case.

They can contact the GBI at 912-871-1121 or submit anonymous tips by calling 1-800-597-TIPS (8477), the GBI website or the See Something, Send Something mobile app.