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1988 murder solved, DNA shows killer sent letter to newspaper regarding case in 1990

August 30, 2022

On the afternoon of Sunday October 23, 1988, a motorist who had broken down after running out of gas discovered the body of a woman while walking in an attempt to find a gas station or local to assist him. The motorist happened upon the body at approximately 3:15pm along the south berm of the Ontelaunee Trail in Perry County, in a wooded area five miles east of Shoemakersville just off the intersection of Route 662.

The decedent had been dead for around twelve hours at the time she was discovered and was soon identified as 26-year-old Anna Jean Kane of Hamburg. Police revealed that the victim had been living in Hamburg, Berks County, Pennsylvania, but had moved several times in several months and was unemployed at the time of her murder. Anna was also a mother of three children- a girl and two boys.

The last sighting of Anna Kane alive was 1am on October 23, 1988, around Franklin and South Sixth streets in the Reading area.

Anna Kane had been found with a length of baling twine tied around her neck, indicating she had been strangled to death with the ligature. The body was transported to Reading Hospital for autopsy, and an examination was performed Forensic Pathologist Doctor Neil A. Hoffman.

The following day, Berks County Coroner, William R. Fatora confirmed in a statement that the victim had indeed died as a result of asphyxiation due to strangulation, adding: "She was choked to death by a rope. It is a homicide and is being handled as such."

Fatora described the bruising to Kane’s face being indicative of the victim’s struggle with her attacker. He said she was “probably not” sexually assaulted but some kind of physical altercation had clearly taken place before her death.

Authorities believed Kane had been killed elsewhere and her body transported to the wooded area along Ontelaunee Trail to dispose of her.

"We're assuming the incident occurred within twelve hours. The ground was wet beneath her and yet her clothing was not wet. And it stopped raining around midnight on Saturday."

 

A background check on the victim pulled up a criminal record for prostitution and minor thefts. Although it was true Anna Kane had past issues with substance abuse and prostitution charges, her daughter would later speak out about Anna's portrayal in the media as a "slain prostitute, who deserved what happened to her," and said she was a loving mother, caring, outgoing and honest and did not deserve to die the way she did.

DNA was collected from the victim’s clothes and body and preserved as evidence, however, there were no leads in the case, no suspects, nor people of interest and the trail went cold.

The killers DNA was said to be that of an undetermined male DNA profile. The profile was run through databased but turned up nothing.

The Reading Eagle Newspaper put a picture of Kane on their front page, including details of the case and a call to the public for information. Response came in the form of a letter sent in February 1990, from a person claiming to be a concerned citizen, and in this letter details of the crime that only the killer could know were revealed, including how Anna’s clothing looked and how it was arranged.

Investigators felt whoever had penned the letter, was likely the killer, and both the letter and the envelope it was sent in were kept in evidence.

Saliva on the envelope was evaluated and matched the undetermined male DNA profile found on the victims clothing.

Thirty five years after Anna Kane was strangled to death and dumped in the woods of Perry County, her killer has finally been identified and named in the media as Scott Grim, who would have been the same age as Anna in 1988 when he strangled her to death.

Scott Grim will never be brought to justice as he died of natural causes at the age of 58 in 2018, but Anna Kane’s daughter, Tamika Reyes, who was 9 years old when her mother was murdered, feels she finally has some closure after her mother's killer has been identified.

Reyes told CNN: "I felt a little bit of everything when I found out. I was happy to finally put a face behind the monster who took her from us and upset that he will never be able to face consequences."

The key to identifying Scott Grim as the killer was comparing the male DNA profile found on both the victims clothing and the letter sent in 1990 and using genetic genealogy to search for biological connections and thus relatives of the killer on public genetic genealogy databases. If and when a genetic match of an existing user and the killers DNA is found, investigators build an extended family tree and try to pinpoint a suspect and make an arrest. Unfortunately, in the case of Kane’s killer, the suspect was already dead.

Before the popularity of genetic genealogy websites like ancestry and 23andme, investigators would rely on entering DNA from cold cases into federal criminal databases like CODIS. Scott Grim had never been arrested for any crimes requiring his DNA profile to be entered into any such database, so when his DNA was run, it turned up nothing.

Investigators are still trying to work out if Kane and Grim had any connection to one another. Both the victim and killer resided in the same area but whether or not they knew each other remains to be seen.

Sources: [X][X][X][X][X]

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