ST. PAUL, Minn. — The body of a woman found in a drainage ditch 35 years ago has been identified as that of an 18-year-old Texas hitchhiker who was assaulted and killed by a former Minnesota state trooper, state authorities said Tuesday.
Michelle Yvette Busha’s remains were identified over the weekend through DNA testing. Her body was found on May 30, 1980, and had been buried anonymously at a cemetery in the southern Minnesota city of Blue Earth for the past three decades.
Robert Leroy Nelson, a state trooper at the time, had confessed to killing a woman nine years later, but investigators had been unable to determine her identity.
“This was a case of not whodunit, but who was she,” said Faribault County Sheriff Michael Gormley. Busha’s remains were exhumed in August and DNA was collected as part of a Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension effort to identify dozens of unidentified human remains in the state. BCA Forensic Science Services Director Catherine Knutson said investigators built a DNA profile, and entered that information into a national database for missing persons in mid-February.