Human remains of a teen girl discovered in Florida almost 50 years ago were finally identified — and possibly linked to a serial killer, according to authorities.
Susan Poole, 15, who was reported missing in 1972, was connected to skeletal remains found in 1974, but not matched to DNA until recently, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Detective William Springer said during a press conference Thursday.
“She was tied up in the mangroves with wire to a tree,” Springer said. “She was skeletal remains, totally nothing left of her except bones.”
The case turned cold after authorities couldn’t identify the body found in north Palm Beach and still turned up nothing in 2015 when her DNA was submitted to a national missing persons database, he said.
Authorities made a computer composite of the victim, based on what they believed she would have looked like in an attempt to identify her remains. But, unfortunately, no one recognized the image.
The case was finally cracked when Othram, a Texas-based forensics lab that builds DNA profiles, provided names of the victim’s mother and siblings. Poole’s mother, still alive and in her 90s, provided a DNA sample and it was a match for the remains Springer said.
Poole was reported missing just before Christmas in 1972. She was living with family in a trailer park and with a friend in nearby Fort Lauderdale apartment, Springer said.
“The family was happy to know what happen,ed” he said. “You know it’s been a long time waiting to see what happened to their sister.”
Springer believes Poole could’ve been killed by serial killer Gerard Schaefer, who was found guilty in the slaying of two girls, 16 and 17. Both were found mutilated and decapitated in April 1973.
Schaefer, who was killed in prison in 1995, was implicated in up to 30 deaths. He was a local police officer and sheriff’s deputy in Marin County.
Springer called Schaefer the “best suspect” in Poole’s death because the two murders he was convicted of were similar to Poole’s death. Any evidence against Schaefer would be circumstantial.
“Other than the MO that she’s in the mangroves and she’s tied up in the mangroves,” Springer said. “I mean not many people were doing that in the 70s except him.”
Springer said he wants to talk to friends of Poole who lived in the same trailer park to figure out her final days in hopes of firmly placing the blame on Schaefer.
“What I’m trying to do is piece together her last weeks, what her activities were,” he said. “She did not go to school, her mother said she had dropped out of school so I need to find out what her activities were.”
With Post wires