PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A new age-progressed sketch of a young woman whose remains were finally identified this year, decades after being found, has been released by detectives working with a forensic artist.
The black-and-white age-progressed sketch of Wanda Herr is at 19, her age when she disappeared in 1976. When Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office investigators announced they had identified her remains in October 2020, the photo they provided of her was taken in 1969, when she was 12 years old.
Herr was believed to be living in a group home in the Gresham area the year she disappeared, according to investigators. On Aug. 2, 1986, two Forest Service workers found a partial skull, a few bone fragments and a single human tooth on Still Creek Road 2612 and Road 145 near Government Camp off of Highway 26.
A forensic examiner with the Oregon State Police determined the skull belonged to a 20-something woman or a small man, and estimated the skull had been in the woods for about 10 years, putting the person’s death on or around 1976.
Despite several developments, such as a facial reconstruction on the skull in 2008, the case remained solidly cold without even an identification until January 2019, when grant funds from the National Insitute of Justice allowed the Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office to perform forensic genetic testing on Herr’s remains, along with others. Eventually, investigators had an intensive genetic analysis completed, and the information, combined with extensive genealogical research, revealed a likely name: Wanda Ann Herr.
Detectives contacted her surviving sisters, and further DNA testing with her sister’s cooperation confirmed the partial skull belonged to Herr.
Mary Nun, a detective with the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, said Wanda’s last confirmed sighting by relatives was in June of 1976. Nun said little is known about the teen — who her friends were, if she had a boyfriend or a job. What investigators do know is she had a rough life.
The investigation remains ongoing. Anyone with information about Herr, her life and what led up to her death is asked to call the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office Tip Line at 503. 723.4949 or online here. The case is CCSO Case # 86-025724.