Media release

101 4th STREET SE
ROCHESTER MN 55904-3718
ADMINISTRATION -507.328.6750
CIVIL DIVISION - 507.328.6820
FAX - 507.328.6781

April 2, 2008

On 04-03-07, the Olmsted County Sheriff's Office opened a missing person investigation in to the unknown disappearance of Heather Ann Schmoll (dob 06-23-76) at the request of her siblings. Heather lived in Stewartville, MN for a short time in 1992 to 1993 and left the area with an unknown boyfriend in 1993 when she was 17 years old. Contact was made with family members and Heather indicated she was living in Daytona Beach, Florida. Last contact was made on New Years Day 1994 when Heather called a family friend. Shortly after the investigation was opened, Heather was entered into the NCIC (National Crime Information Center) computer system as a missing person. The family had set up a page/file on the website to disseminate her information. This information included photographs of Heather, physical description, and descriptions of her tattoos. DNA samples were received from Heather’s mother and sister and sent to the Minnesota BCA (MN Bureau of Criminal Apprehension) for profiles and entry into the NCIC (National Crime Information Center) system under Heather’s name.

On 07-03-07, the Olmsted County Sheriff's Office was contacted by Lt. Bob Weber from the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office in Bunnell, Florida (about 20 miles north of Daytona Beach). Lt. Weber was researching a cold case of an unidentified deceased woman found in 1994. They had received a NCIC system generated response that showed there were similarities between the unidentified woman’s description and the description of Heather Schmoll. The unidentified woman was found in a field along Hwy 1 (in Flagler County) on February 2, 1994. An autopsy showed that she died of a drug overdose. No signs of foul play were found on the body or at the scene. An investigation was conducted without identifying the woman or how she came to be in the field. The woman was buried in an unmarked grave in Flagler County by county authorities. In reviewing the case, Lt. Weber found that the woman had tattoos of “Cody” across one hand and “Love” with a heart on her forearm. Lt. Weber researched the tattoos and searched on the website and found a match with the tattoos listed in Heather’s file. Lt. Weber compared the photographs of Heather’s tattoos and photographs from the unidentified woman and they appeared very similar. As part of their evidence, they had kept a sample of the unidentified woman’s flesh. After finding the match of the tattoos and at the request of the Olmsted County Sheriff's Office, they sent the evidence to the Florida state crime lab to obtain a DNA profile to compare to the DNA profiles of Heather’s mother and sister.

The DNA process took several months to extract and obtain a DNA profile from the sample of flesh from the unidentified woman. Analysts from the Florida state crime lab and the MN BCA (Bureau of Criminal Apprehension) lab worked on comparisons of the DNA profiles. The Olmsted County Sheriff's Office obtained a DNA sample of Heather’s father and provided it to the BCA Lab. The BCA obtained a DNA profile of her father and along with the DNA profile of Heather’s mother compared them to the DNA profiles of the unidentified woman. On 03-13-08, the BCA found that Heather’s mother and father could not be excluded from being the biological parents of the unidentified woman. It is greater than 2 million times more likely that they would be the parents than if an untested random man and woman from the general population were the biological parents of the unidentified woman.

On 03-24-08, the Flagler County Medical Examiner’s Office officially identified the unidentified woman as Heather Schmoll based on the DNA testing and tattoos on the woman. The cause of death will be listed as undetermined due to the decomposing effect with drug overdose as contributing factor.

The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office will be closing their investigation as the case has been determined as non-criminal. Due to limited information and investigative sources there is not enough to continue the investigation. For more information, they may be contacted at the following phone number: Pubic Information Officer-Debbie Johnson 386-586-4813

Heather was 17 years old when she was located in the field in Flagler County, Florida.

The Schmoll family was notified of the results of the DNA testing. Some relatives still need to be contacted. They will be making decisions on how to handle Heather’s remains. At this time they have requested not to be contacted by the media.

The Olmsted County Sheriff's Office will be closing their missing person investigation as Heather has been located.

Statement from the Schmoll family

We, the family of Heather Schmoll would like to thank the public and media for their involvement in finding Heather. We would like to personally thank Detective Lee Rossman for his hard work and continued dedication. We would also like to thank the Doe Network and their website, had it not been for their organization we may not have the answers we do today. Many thanks to the Flagler County sheriff’s Office, the MN Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for their assistance in locating and identifying Heather. We would also like to thank our family and friends for their love and support during such a difficult time.

Heather has been missed ever day that she has been gone and we will continue to miss her. We pray she may now rest in peace knowing she is back with her family that loves her and that we may now begin the healing process.

The journey to bring her home is just beginning, as we will be making decisions and arrangements for bringing Heather back to Minnesota. During this time of grieving, we ask that our privacy be respected. Although the media has helped us greatly, we ask that the media not contact us during this time of mourning so that we may bring closure to this chapter in our lives.

Thank you

The Family of Heather Schmoll