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Remains Identified As Missing Hobart Teen

Last updated on Wednesday, August 15, 2007

(HOBART) - DNA tests confirm a skeleton found outside Crown Point 27 years ago is that of a missing Hobart teenager. How she died is still unanswered.

Police have always suspected the remains found along a rural road a week before Christmas 1980 are those of 15-year-old Paula Stewart, who had disappeared six months earlier after going to the store. By the time DNA technology came along to confirm it, the case had been forgotten.

A phone call to Hobart police last winter from Stewart's sister led them to look up the records and dig up the body. DNA was matched with a sample from Stewart's sister.

Lake County Chief Deputy Coroner Jeff Wells says an Indianapolis pathologist is running tests to try to determine a cause of death. Tests on the bones back in 1980 revealed no trauma to the body, but technological advances could reveal something the original postmortem missed.

Wells expects results in a week to 10 days. For now, Stewart's cause of death is still listed as undetermined, but wells says police are interviewing old acquaintances, trying to pin down why she was on that road to begin with.

The remains had been buried since 1984 in an unmarked grave in the township cemetery in Merrillville.

After tests are complete, Wells says the remains will be returned to Stewart's family for reburial elsewhere.

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