Thanks to a stranger, Jane Doe is identified

You’ve got to admire the persistence of Deb Anderson, who was rewarded today with news that a woman killed by a state trooper in 1980 has been identified.

For years, Deb Anderson’s passion apparently has been finding out who “Jane Doe” was. Today, the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension identified her as Michelle Yvette Busha, 18, a native of Bay City, Texas, a small town southwest of Houston.

  1. Listen MPR’s Cathy Wurzer talks to Deb Anderson about her effort to identify Michelle Busha (Morning Edition)

    March 18, 2015

Anderson, of Blue Earth, works at Minnesota State University Mankato. She didn’t know Busha, nor the cop who killed her. But she’s primarily responsible for getting authorities to exhume the body late last summer, so that DNA testing could be done, and Busha’s family could finally find out whatever happened to her.

front“They just found out,” Anderson tells the Mankato Free Press. “They were grateful, but it’s been a pretty emotional deal. I never thought I’d see it happen.”

“It should have been done many years ago,” Anderson tells the paper. “We had to have all the players agree or it wasn’t going to happen.

“It was just the right thing to do. I know I would want to know what happened to my child. We have to do it for strangers if they’re going to do it for us. I’m still absorbing it all. It’s a sad end to a beautiful life and we just have to go forward from here.”

It was almost 14 years ago when Anderson learned about the case from a friend who was a police officer. She decided she wanted to help identify her.

“She doesn’t have an advocate. She doesn’t have anybody,” she told the Star Tribune last fall about her mission. She says from the start she wanted DNA analysis, which would’ve cost about $10,000.

It ended up costing only $1,000 because a funeral home and local construction firms donated the services for the exhumation. The Mankato Free Press reported that several local technology firms volunteered to do the analysis for free, too.

Anderson set up a website to help sort through the years of information, which included dozens of names of missing people who could have been Jane Doe.

Michelle Yvette Busha was not on the list.