CASTLE ROCK — After nearly 30 years, Douglas County sheriff’s investigators have a name for a woman whose body was found in the forest between Woodland Park and Deckers.
Rebecca Ann Redeker, 20, had lived in Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs, among other places, before she was reported missing.
Officials identified Redeker at a news conference Thursday and are seeking information about her and her death.
How she died has not been determined. Although officials said they are treating it as a homicide investigation, Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock said there are no suspects.
The Douglas County Sheriff's Office is working with the Colorado Springs Police Department and the Teller County and El Paso County sheriff's offices on the investigation.
“It’s an honor to be able to say her name out loud to the public,” said Spurlock, who was a deputy at the time of Redeker’s death.
On June 15, 1993, Redeker’s remains were found in a makeshift campsite at the Rainbow Creek Falls area of southwest Douglas County near the borders of Teller and El Paso counties. Deputies believe her body was found within 72 hours of her death.
Known to her family as "Becky," Redeker is survived by her mother and a brother, neither of whom live in Colorado, authorities said. It was unclear where the family now lives.
Despite an extensive crime scene, authorities were unable to identify Redeker in 1993. She was buried as Jane Doe at a Castle Rock cemetery, but the case was reexamined throughout the years with the hope that new investigative tools could help identify her.
DNA taken from Redeker’s body was used to build a DNA profile through investigative genetic genealogy, said Douglas County sheriff's detective Shannon Jensen. That profile was uploaded to a public database, GEDmatch, where investigators found several matches, mostly distant family members.
Jensen said initially their best DNA match was a fourth cousin, and detectives were tasked with identifying both Redeker’s paternal and maternal lineage. Investigators built 65 family trees that included nearly 4,500 relatives to identify paternal and maternal matches confirmed by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
“I’m extremely grateful that I was able to be a part of giving her a name. She deserves that,” Jensen said Thursday. “I’m glad I could be a part of giving her family some peace.”
“DNA is incredibly important in solving these cold cases where maybe you’ve uploaded to a criminal database and have no matches, no leads. This gives you leads. This gives you information,” said Mitch Morrissey, former Denver district attorney and co-founder of United Data Connect, the company that helped create Redeker’s DNA profile.
Authorities said Redeker was most likely homeless at the time of her death and was reported missing before her remains were found. Because authorities couldn’t identify her in 1993, they could not trace her back to family, Spurlock said.
Redeker lived in Manitou Springs from 1985 to 1988 and attended Manitou Springs High School. From 1988 to 1989, she lived in Divide before moving to a group home in Colorado Springs in 1989. From 1990 to 1991, Redeker lived at a group home in Denver and in 1992 was known to have lived in Black Forest, Green Mountain Falls and Woodland Park.
Spurlock said Redeker also attended Coronado High School in 1989 and spent one year at Manual High School.
Douglas County Undersheriff Holly Nicholson-Kluth, who was assigned to the case in 1993, said she was thankful Redeker was finally identified, but said there was still more work to be done.
"Over all this time, there is a now a family that we know this girl belonged to, and she is someone. She is no longer our Jane Doe. Thank God for that."
Anyone who attended school with Redeker, who knew her or with whom she associated, or may have any information related to this investigation is asked to contact Douglas County sheriff’s detective Mark O’Harold at email@example.com or by phone at 1-303-784-7815 or 1-720-474-6298.
Metro Denver Crime Stoppers is offering a $10,000 reward for anyone who can provide information that leads to an arrest through its tip line at 1-720-913-7867 or online at metrodenvercrimestoppers.com.