More than 30 years after an Orleans County hunter found the badly decomposed body off the shoulder of Route 63 in Shelby, authorities finally know who she was.
The remains were those of Shari Lynne Ball, who was 20 years old in June 1983 when she left her home in Florida, telling her family she was pursuing a career in modeling in New York State.
Last fall, the body was exhumed from the Albion cemetery where she was buried as a Jane Doe. DNA was extracted and entered into the National DNA Database. It matched a sample that had been provided a few years ago by a family member, the New York State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation announced Monday following extensive forensic work by the agency’s famed Albany Forensic Bureau and the Chief Medical Examiners Office of New York City.
Now authorities want to know how Ball died.
According to the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office, Ball left her family home in Boca Raton on foot at about 5:30 p.m. June 27, 1983. She had packed her bags and told her mother she was going to New York with someone she never identified. Her mother said Ball told her she was going to Boynton Beach to meet her traveling companion. But the mother nervously told sheriff office investigators she became concerned when she found her daughter had left her luggage at home.
Ball said she last heard her from her daughter when she called about four hours after leaving home, asking her for money.
The young woman also made contact with a friend from a truck stop in Ashland, Va., a couple of days later. She was never heard from again.
Then in October of 1983, the hunter found the body. It was badly decomposed, and there was no way to identify the remains. The cause of death was listed as “undetermined,” but police suspected foul play.
Last October, the State Police investigation unit working with the Orleans County District Attorney’s Office and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, obtained a court order to exhume the body of the unidentified female for further DNA analysis.
New York City pathologists used a DNA sample provided by a relative of the missing woman several years ago to the National DNA Database to resume testing, coming up with the identification hit.
In announcing the identification of the woman, authorities put out a nationwide alert asking for anyone who knew Ball or anyone who may be able to provide any information about her to contact them at (585) 344-6210.