PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Nearly 40 years after a young woman’s body was found near Fly Creek in rural Clark County, genetic genealogy has helped investigators learn her name.
The victim known for decades as the “Fly Creek Jane Doe” was Sandra “Sandy” Renee Morden, born in 1962.
Sandy’s skeletal remains were found by men panning for gold near the bridge at Fly Creek on February 24, 1980. At the time, all that was known about her was that she was in her mid-to-late teens and she was the victim of a homicide.
Over the years, investigators used facial reconstruction to release images of Jane Doe in hopes of identifying her but got no strong leads.
Finally, in 2019, detectives sent DNA to Parabon NanLabs, which used genetic genealogy to create a genetic profile of Jane Doe. Then they submitted the profile to public genealogy databases that allow law enforcement to submit cases in hopes of finding familial links.
That service led detectives to people who were likely related to Jane Doe and learned Sandy Morden had been missing since 1977. Family photos and another DNA sample confirmed Fly Creek Jane Doe was Sandy Morden.
Sandy was the daughter of Andrew Bain Morden and Kathryn Irene Morden, who divorced in the early 1970s. Sandy lived with her father in Portland and Vancouver. She went to Binnesmead Middle School (now called Harrison Park) from 1974 to 1975 and Gaiser Middle School from 1975 to 1976, then Wilson High School in Portland in 1976 and 1977.
Her mother died in San Fransisco in 1988 and her father died in Ilwaco, Washington in 1999 after retiring there.
Investigators don’t know where Sandy was between May 1977 and when her remains were found in February 1980.
Identifying Fly Creek Jane Doe as Sandy Morden is just one step in solving the case. The Clark County Sheriff’s Office still needs to find out what happened to Sandy and who killed her.
“We think people are still here locally who will remember Andy and Sandy and maybe even her mom who can fill us in on another piece of the puzzle who may lead us to whoever is responsible for her death,” said Detective Lindsay Schultz.
Detectives want to hear from any friends, neighbors, coworkers or anyone who knew the Morden family, especially in the 1970s. If you know anything, contact Det. Schultz at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360.397.2036.