Portage woman’s 1982 disappearance now considered a homicide
By Erin Guerra Post-Tribune correspondent July 20, 2012 4:38PM
Updated: July 20, 2012 9:29PM
PORTAGE — A detective with the Portage Police Department is making progress on a 30-year-old missing-person case, now considered a homicide.
Using a relatively new University of North Texas DNA database of unidentified remains, Detective Cpl. Janis Regnier discovered that Portage resident Kimberly Wuerthele, who was last seen in Chicago on Feb. 26, 1982, matched the body of a woman who washed up on March 31, 1982 on the shore of Lake Erie in Monroe, Mich. It was believed the body had been in the water for at least two weeks, according to a news release.
Regnier made the finding earlier this month after locating Wuerthele’s brothers and asking them to provide DNA to compare with samples on the university’s database. She has been looking for leads on the case since 2008. Meanwhile, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department exhumed the body to get DNA for the database in March 2009.
Wuerthele disappeared at age 21 after jumping out of her family’s car as they took her to get help with an addiction, police said. The family never again heard from her and reported her missing on June 22 of that year.
The Monroe County Sheriff’s Department is pursuing Wuerthele’s death as a homicide. Anyone with information about her disappearance or murder is asked to contact Detective Jeff Pauli at (734) 240-7530 or (734) 240-7745.