Sixteen years after she was last seen, police say they now know the skeletal remains found in a storage unit belonging to Melissa Ann Poitra, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa.
Police are investigating her death as a homicide.
Our Nexstar sister station CBS 17‘s Crystal Price spoke with investigators, still piecing together what happened.
Poitra’s remains were found in a storage unit at this facility five years ago, but how they got there and how she died remains a mystery.
Poitra was 28 years old when she went missing back in 2005, now almost 16 years after her disappearance.
Police say the skeletal remains found in a storage unit five years ago have been identified as hers.
The storage unit was being cleaned out because the person renting it had died.
The caller told officers they were cleaning out the storage unit when they noticed a plastic storage container with a bone sticking out of it.
Police are not saying who it was who rented that storage unit or if they’re connected to Poitra.
The remains were sent to the medical examiner’s office for an autopsy. DNA was collected and a DNA profile was created.
It was in 2018 when the FBI created sketches of what they thought the woman looked like — but still no leads.
Last year, police were looking into an untreated case when they had learned Poitra hadn’t been in contact with her family since 2005.
After working with the Poitra family, they obtained DNA samples from them and through the help of Othram, a forensic laboratory and DNA solutions, they were able to positively identify Poitra last month.
“That’s the reason why we are here now. We’re grateful for those.”
But identifying Poitra is only one step as police still don’t know what happened to her or when she had died.
Thursday night, they’re looking for anyone with any information.
Her family waiting for answers as well.
“I have spoken to a couple members of the family, and they’re holding up. They still need to heal. It’s a healing process, they’re grieving.”
Poitra is from North Dakota.
The family says she was living in Durham with her boyfriend when she was last seen.
The family has created a GoFundMe page to raise money in order to bring her remains back home to North Dakota.
Click here to donate.