A decomposed body found at a New Jersey truck stop 30 years ago has finally been identified as a missing Chester County teenager.
Wendy Louise Baker of Coatesville is the “Tiger Lady” found at the stop on Oct. 26, 1991, investigators announced this week. The body, which was nicknamed due to the distinctive Bengal tiger tattoo on the left calf, was identified thanks to the use of DNA.
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The investigation began that day in a gravel parking area off of Route 94 North in Warren County, New Jersey. Baker’s nude body was found by hunters adjacent to Route 80 and a Truck Stops of America facility.
No arrests have yet been made, and investigation remains ongoing.
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The cause of her death ruled a homicide, but the cause of her death remained unclear after she was autopsied the following day, officials said.
Among the many agencies that continued to investigate the case was the North Texas Center for Human Identification, which began developing a DNA profile on Baker of “Short Tandem Repeat and Mitochondrial DNA.” In 2008, that group uploaded the profile to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons database and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
A sample from Baker’s remains was sent to Bode Technology in Lorton, Virginia, in December 2017, Warren County Prosecutor Jim Pfeiffer said, with the goal of “extracting DNA from her bones” to potentially find any of her relatives.
Bode Technology matched Baker’s DNA to her grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins in July 2021. One set of her grandparents was found to be Ernest Baker, who died in 1993, and grandmother Nina Brownwell, who died in 1986. They were traced to Coatesville.
Baker’s grandparents had 17 children together, Pfeiffer said. Investigators then had to narrow down from there to determine her parents.