Decapitated woman found in California vineyard identified by DNA after 13 years

DNA testing has identified a decapitated woman who was found in a California vineyard 13 years ago, according to Kern County officials.

The body has been identified as Ada Beth Kaplan, 64, of Canyon Country, California, NBC News reported.

Police found her remains on 29 March 2011, at the Grapevine Vineyard in Arvin, according to the Kern County Sheriff's Office.

The body was missing a head and thumbs when it was discovered. Police also determined the remains had been posed, according to KGET, a broadcaster in nearby Bakersfield.

Previous attempts to identify the body were unsuccessful, and the woman was eventually interred as a Jane Doe at Union Cemetery.

The nonprofit group DNA Doe Project, a group that uses DNA testing to identify previously unidentified remains, took interest in the case and began testing in an effort to determine the woman's name. The project began building a family tree for the woman based on a DNA profile, which they hoped would lead them to potential relatives.

The group located a pair of family members living on the East Coast they believed may have been related to the woman. They provided DNA for testing, which ultimately led the group and the sheriffs to positively identify the body as Ms Kaplan.

Kern County detectives found that a missing person's report was never filed for Ms Kaplan, which made identifying her more difficult.

“Kern County Sheriff detectives followed up on the investigation and interviewed family members and it was learned that a missing person report was not filed on her,” they said.

The sheriff's spokesman at the time, Ray Pruitt, told KGET at the time of the discovery that he was shocked by the scene.

“I’ve never seen anything like that in my life,” Mr Pruitt said. “I’ve seen some pretty gruesome crime scenes and this was just … it was creepy.”

He explained that the remains appeared to have been posed for discovery.

“It appeared that the blood had been drained from the body,” he said. “Why did they take the time to drain the blood from the body? The crime scene itself was very clean. Honestly it looked like somebody had taken a mannequin, removed the head of the mannequin and posed it on the dirt road.”

The coroner's office has yet to formally determine a cause of death for Ms Kaplan. No suspects have been arrested in her death.