IN-DEPTH: BCA urges families with a missing relative to provide DNA samples

February 13, 2019 10:34 PM

Nearly 50 years after Gloria Rieken disappeared after leaving her Minneapolis apartment, investigators have identified her remains.

The 18-year-old University of Minnesota freshman was reported missing in November of 1970. Later that month, a home burned down in Mille Lacs County and a neighbor found her remains inside.

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According to investigators, the fire did not cause her death. Her remains were buried, even as she remained unidentified.

Investigators exhumed the remains last summer and compared them to DNA her family provided years earlier. The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension announced the match Wednesday. 

“The hope is still there,” said Rich Rieken, her brother.

Her family hopes investigators will now solve her case after decades of questions.

“Has she been around and we didn't know it," Rich Rieken said. "Now we have the answer to that - she had no way of coming home."

Rieken's parents submitted their DNA to the BCA in 2013. It’s been in the FBI CODIS DNA database waiting for a match, which finally happened when the DNA from Rieken's remains was entered earlier this month..

“Their decision to come forward and provide DNA is a key reason as to why we're here today,” said Catherine Knutson, the BCA's deputy superintendent of forensic science services.

The agency started a campaign in 2013 to encourage families to come forward. A Minneapolis woman, Pearline Walton, was the first match that year.

Since then, only six other sets of remains have been identified.

“There are still many unidentified people in Minnesota with DNA in the missing person's database waiting to be searched against their loved ones,” Knutson said.

According to the BCA, there are DNA profiles for 50 unidentified people waiting for a match. They’re asking family members to come forward and provide their own samples.

“So we can provide those answers, provide starting points and additional investigations and give those families the answers they've been waiting for, for all of those years,” said BCA Superintendent Drew Evans,.

A spokesperson for the BCA told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the DNA collected from family members will only go into the database. It will not be used for any other cases or investigations.

To provide a sample, a family member has the inside of their cheek swabbed.

To get the process started, contact Minnesota Missing & Unidentified Persons Clearinghouse manager Kris Rush at kris.rush@state.mn.us or 651-793-1118.

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