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Police: DNA identifies woman killed in 1987 Pennsylvania Turnpike crash

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Pennsylvania State Police Troop T on Tuesday announced that DNA analysis paid for by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission has identified a woman who was killed in a 1987 crash.

Police said Linda Jean McClure, 26, of Indiana, Pennsylvania, was a passenger in a tractor-trailer that crashed on the turnpike in Stoneycreek Township in Somerset County on Oct. 22, 1987.

Police said the tractor-trailer in which she was a passenger caught fire after striking the fuel tank of another semi-trailer truck, killing her and her driver.

Though the truck driver was identified as a California man, police had not been able to identify McClure despite multiple attempts.

This past August, the turnpike commission agreed to pay for forensic genetic genealogy DNA testing. State Police teamed up with Othram in Texas to help establish her identity or the identity of the nearest living relative.

Through an investigation, they determined the woman was McClure, and McClure’s family told investigators they last spoke to her in the late 1980s, but she was not reported as missing to law enforcement. Her brother submitted a DNA sample for comparison, which confirmed McClure was the victim in the crash.

“There were many obstacles in this case but none that deterred the outcome,” said Maj. Michael Carroll, commander of State Police Area II. “I commend the troopers who remained dedicated to their duty and ultimately brought closure to this case.”

“The Pennsylvania Turnpike is pleased we were able to support the State Police on this cold case,” Pennsylvania Turnpike CEO Mark Compton said. “We hope that this revelation provides long overdue comfort to Ms. McClure’s family.”

His name was Joseph Augustus Zarelli. Nearly 66 years after the battered body of a young boy was found stuffed inside a cardboard box, Philadelphia police say they have finally unlocked a central mystery in the city's most notorious cold case: The victim's identity.

Email Naomi Creason at ncreason@cumberlink.com or follow her on Twitter @SentinelCreason.

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