WARREN COUNTY, N.J. (PIX11) — The remains of a teenage girl found at a New Jersey cemetery 40 years ago were identified Friday as Dawn Olanick, who was 17 years old when she went missing from West Babylon, Long Island in July 1982.
The Warren County Prosecutor’s Office said a man convicted of two murders in New York, Arthur Kinlaw, had confessed in 2005 to killing a teenager but didn’t provide her name. Kinlaw said he had tried to lure the girl into prostitution and beat her to death when she refused.
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) announced that DNA extracted from Olanick’s molar tooth helped identify the teen, thanks to enhanced technology that wasn’t available four decades ago. The DNA work was done by Astrea Forensics.
“What is so special about Astrea is that they are able to extract DNA from samples that are degraded or otherwise would provide no value,” said Carol Schweitzer, a forensic supervisor at NCMEC. “We knew that if anyone could get the information that was needed, Astrea could.”
Kelly Kincaid of Astrea Forensics said the DNA was exceptionally well preserved.
After Astrea finished doing genomic sequencing on the DNA, Innovative Forensic Investigations took over and started to utilize genetic genealogy techniques to build a family tree.
Olanick’s cousin was present at a press conference at the Warren County District Attorney’s Office on Friday when new murder charges were announced against Arthur Kinlaw, now 68 years old and incarcerated in Sullivan County, New York.
Olanick had been beaten beyond recognition when her body was found at Cedar Ridge Cemetery in Blairstown on July 25, 1982. The cemetery is located in northwestern New Jersey, not far from the Pennsylvania border.
The cousin said, “This is a very big deal for my family.”
The cousin observed that the people of Blairstown, New Jersey had buried the teen’s remains 40 years ago, calling her Princess Doe.
“I’d like to thank Blairstown for treating my cousin like she was one of their own. It touches our family deeply … my cousin is always in my heart,” the man said while tapping a photo of Olanick pinned to his chest.
The gravestone at the New Jersey cemetery where Olanick was buried reads, “Princess Doe. Missing from Home. Dead Among Strangers. Remembered by All.”