(CBS4) – DNA testing confirmed the identity of a woman believed to be a victim of serial killer Robert Hansen, Alaska authorities announced Friday. Genetic material from relatives of Robin Pelkey matched skeletal remains found in the early 1980s in the area of Horseshoe Lake.
She was previously referred to as “Horseshoe Harriet” for the 37 years separating her body’s discovery and the successful kinship DNA analysis completed last month, the Alaska Department of Public Safety stated in a press release.
The department stated Pelkey was born in Colorado in 1963. Records indicated she was living in the Anchorage area during the stretch of time Hansen was killing 17 women. Authorities believe she was 19 years old when murdered.
The Alaska Bureau of Investigation’s Cold Case Investigation Unit re-launched efforts to identify “Horseshoe Harriet” in August, according to the press release. A new DNA profile for the victim was generated and uploaded into a public access genealogy database. A family tree was constructed utilizing several close matches. Genealogy research by Parabon Nanolabs and the Alaska Bureau of Investigation gave a preliminary result of Pelkey’s ID.
Arkansas State Police then collected DNA samples from Pelkin’s family members in that state and shipped the items to Alaska for testing.
Per Alaska’s public safety department, the Pelkin family asked for privacy following the findings “while they come to grips with this heartbreaking news.”
Hansen was arrested in October of 1983. He pleaded guilty to four murders and several other felony crimes. Eventually, he admitted to killing 17 women and led police to several burial sites.
The department is currently using genetic technology to positively identify a woman believed to be Eklutna Annie, the last of Hansen’s victims to not be officially named.
The Department of Public Safety has purchased a new grave marker identifying the final resting place of Ms. Pelkey at the Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery.
Horseshoe Lake is located midway between Anchorage and Fairbanks along an entryway to Denali National Park.