In December of 1986, a body was discovered along a stretch of Hivon Road in Monroe County. And for over 26 years, it was classified as a "Jane Doe" until early September, 2013.
Ruth Sharon Hoffman, was last seen on June 30th 1986. That day, she told her daughter, Debbie Smeaton, that she had been raped by two men the night before, after she went for a job interview with a bar owner in River Rouge.Debbie documents the entire story on numerous missing persons websites.
Later that same day, Ruth said she was going to confront the men who assaulted her. Debbie never saw her mother again.
She went to police, but until 2005, when she approached the now retired, Wayne County Sheriff Larry Crider, not one item about Ruth Hoffman had been documented.
"She had not been able to get any success from any police agencies taking her complaint trying to locate her mom," says Crider.
Crider took the case, and immediately filed the paperwork in the police database, not knowing if Hoffman was alive or not.
He says, "It was a cold case when we got it. And we did everything we could to try to locate the mother."
The most recent lead was a ticket issued to Ruth Sharon Russie, a former name or alias of Hoffman, seven years after she went missing.
"We found out that someone had stolen her identity and was collecting some of her social security money," says Crider.
No one knew that the remains of Ruth Hoffman, found just six months after she vanished, sat in evidence year after year.
"Given that there was nothing in the police computer system, neither in Michigan or nationwide, there was no attachment made to that missing person," explains Crider
He says someone should have documented the report, but someone didn't do their job.
"They would have been able to close that case right away," he says, because Hoffman had some very distinguishable characteristics that would have been easy to identify if a missing persons report would have been logged.
That mistake cost Debbie Smeaton 26 years of searching for her mother, not knowing if she was still alive.
Now that the identity has been found, police are going to be able to follow old leads and possibly find out who's responsible for the death of Ruth Hoffman.