Coroner: Found remains not those of missing Halifax teen - abc27 WHTM

Perry County

Coroner: Found remains not those of missing Halifax teen

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Tracy Kroh (1989 photo) Tracy Kroh (1989 photo)

Human remains found along Route 22/322 near Newport last month are not those of a Halifax teenager who disappeared more than 20 years ago, according to the county coroner.

There had been speculation on whether the remains found Sept. 9 were those of Tracy Kroh, who disappeared from Millersburg's square on Aug. 5, 1989 when she was 17 years old.

Perry County Coroner Mike Shalonis now says the remains are not Kroh's. He says the body had too much dental work to be that of a teenager.

"It's not Tracy Kroh," Shalonis told abc27. "She was the first one I hoped for, but it wasn't."

The body, believed to be that of a white woman between the ages of 25 and 45, is at Mercyhurst College in Erie. Dr. Dennis Dirkmaat, a forensic anthropologist who has worked on bodies from the Sept. 11 crash of Flight 93 and on victims of the Haiti earthquake, is studying the remains he called "partially skeletonized."

"A typical set of remains would take about a year or two years to be completely skeletonized," Dirkmaat said.

In their study, Dirkmaat and his students factor in the outdoor scene. They also look for trauma and examine the body to its very core.

"Right now, at this stage what we want to do is clean it basically to bones and then we figure out what is called the biological profile," Dirkmaat said.

They enter that profile into missing persons databases which help coroners, police and loved ones nationwide.

"In the past, if somebody was found, say in Harrisburg, and maybe they were killed in Columbus, Ohio it would be very difficult to link them up," Dirkmaat said. "Now, it's almost instantaneous."

It may be a sad job, but Dirkmaat says it's important.

"What we typically don't do is get involved in the emotion of who the person was and how they might have died and their life and all that because that will get you every time," he said.

Dirkmaat said he has already provided state police and the coroner with a preliminary assessment of the body's biological profile. Shalonis said he could know more in the next month or two.

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