MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - Investigators received a major break in a nearly 50-year-old case in Mille Lacs County thanks to DNA, according to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
A woman found dead in an abandoned Mille Lacs County home 49 years ago has now been identified after the BCA matched her DNA to family members. Authorities identified her as 18-year-old Gloria Frieda Rieken of Minneapolis.
“This is not the ending any family would hope for, but it is information,” said BCA Superintendent Drew Evans. “After a half century of waiting and wondering, the Riekens can at last bring Gloria home to rest.”
Rieken disappeared in November 1970. She was a freshman at the University of Minnesota. One morning, she walked out of her apartment to head to class, but never made it to school.
On Nov. 10, 1970, a neighbor found human remains inside an abandoned, burned home along Keystone Road in Mille Lacs County. At the time, the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office ruled the woman did not die from the fire, but could not determine what caused her death. She was later interred at Milo Cemetery.
In 2013, Rieken's family from Hayfield, Minnesota provided DNA samples to the BCA after learning of the agency's effort to identify unidentified remains. Last year, Rieken's remains were exhumed. The DNA samples were matched this month. Authorities are applauding Rieken's family for their contributions to the investigation.
“Without her family’s decision to come forward, we would never have been able to identify Gloria Rieken,” said BCA Deputy Superintendent of Forensic Science Services Knutson. “Once again, this speaks to the importance of family members of missing people coming forward to provide DNA samples.”
The Mille Lacs County Sheriff says their focus will now be working to determine how Rieken ended up in the abandoned home and how she died.