TIMES TRIBUNE (CORBIN, Ky.)
By Jeff Noble / Staff Writer
The remains found in a Corbin storage building late last week were identified Tuesday as a Delaware woman missing for 16 years.
Whitley County Coroner Andy Croley said dental records identified the remains as that of Doris Anne Wood of Newark, Del.
She was last seen July 28, 1997.
At that time, Mrs. Wood was reported to have left her residence to meet with her sister and never arrived.
“The State Medical Examiner in Frankfort made the confirmation, and it was a positive identification through dental records made a couple of days ago. The identification of Mrs. Wood was made through the National Missing and Unidentified Person System, known as NamUs. Until I can notify the family and let them know that the positive identification has been made, we could not release it to the public until now. The cause and manner of death continues to be investigated and will be determined at a later time,” Croley said.
Last Thursday around 4 p.m., her remains were found in a storage unit at Pier Rental and Storage on the Cumberland Falls Highway in Corbin.
The unit had been rented by her husband, Robert Wood, who formerly lived in Newark, Del., but had moved to Corbin by 2002 — about five years after she disappeared.
Corbin Police said the storage unit was rented by Mr. Wood in 2002
The city was one of several places Mr. Wood lived out his remaining years, according to the Associated Press.
He later moved to Scottsboro, Ala., where he worked at a grocery store. Mr. Wood died May 4 in a Huntsville, Ala. hospital. He was 59 years old.
When Mrs. Wood disappeared in 1997, police in Delaware were contacted by Mr. Wood. That’s according to Cpl. John Weglarz Sr., a spokesperson for the New Castle County Police, where the city of Newark is located. Mr. Wood was interviewed by police several times but Weglarz said, “there was no evidence obtained to substantiate that he was a suspect.”
Several years after her disappearance, police returned to the Wood house, but no clues were found after a search of the property.
In Alabama, a co-worker said Robert Wood lived alone in Scottsboro and worked at the grocery until he became sick. She said Mr. Wood seemed to be a nice man, and his co-workers would give him a ride home from work due to the fact he didn’t have a vehicle.
The co-worker, who declined to give out her name, told the Associated Press, “You would have never in a million years believed that a dead body was found in his storage building. … We were in complete shock.”
Two people bought the Corbin storage unit’s contents last week at an auction after Mr. Wood died. Police reported one of the men was going through the contents of the unit and found three grocery-style bags containing human bones. A lower jawbone was identified and was determined to be a human jawbone.
The man alerted the storage company on finding the remains, with the company immediately notifying police. Croley was also notified.
On Monday, Corbin Police went to two residences around the S. Kentucky Street area where Mr. Wood lived around the time his wife went missing. Police searched the crawl spaces and attics of the residences, but found no further bones or remains.
Detective Rusty Hedrick continues the investigation for the Corbin Police Department.
In an email from Livingston, Tenn., NamUs Director of Communications J. Todd Matthews said their regional system administrator covering Kentucky, Dr. Emily Craig, helped with the identification.
Before she retired in 2010, Craig was the state forensic anthropologist within the Kentucky Medical Examiner’s Office. She was also a key member of the team that helped identify victims from the World Trade Center terrorists attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, and the Branch Davidian standoff in Waco, Texas in 1993.
According to Matthews, Craig was contacted last Thursday by Croley. She was contacted by Croley again last Friday, saying the presumed missing person was in the NamUs database. She was able to find a complete dental profile, including dental x-rays, already posted in the case of Mrs. Wood. Craig was able to reach out to several people associated with Mrs. Wood’s case.
Saturday morning, Craig began her analysis on the remains under contact with the Kentucky Medical Examiner’s Office in Frankfort. Flat-film radiographs of the jaws were taken and the remains were photographed.
A preliminary written report was issued by the NamUs forensic odontologist, Dr. John Filippi, to Dr. John Hunsaker, the associate chief medical examiner in Kentucky, indicating that based on the dental evidence in NamUs, the remains were that of Mrs. Wood. Hunsaker then documented that medical examiner case number was identified as Mrs. Wood, and Croley was notified.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.