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Pollen may help Vernon County ID unsolved murder victim from 1984



It’s the kind of thing you might see on a TV show like CSI — a piece of scientific evidence, which could help solve a cold-case murder.

A large amount of a pollen peculiar to the southwest U.S. was found in the clothes of a woman found dead 34 years ago in Vernon County.

Sheriff’s Lt. Scott Bjerkos in Viroqua said that discovery seems to pinpoint where the woman lived, and it probably wasn’t Wisconsin.

“The clothing had such a level of pollens that it was the opinion of the analyst that this person just could not have been passing through the area,” Bjerkos said. “There was high volumes of certain pollens vegetations that could only be grown in the southwest United States.”

The Jane Doe slaying, dating back to 1984, has been publicized frequently by Vernon County in recent years. The handless body of a woman in her 50s or 60s was discovered near Westby, apparently brought to the county from somewhere else.

Bjerkos says figuring out where the victim lived could make it easier to find the killer. He added that having the woman’s body exhumed three years ago for DNA testing also helped police learn more about what she would have looked like.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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