In December 1990, a couple walking on a rural road in Southwest Missouri discovered the decomposed remains of a young woman. She had been hog-tied and dumped next to an abandoned farmhouse. Detective Howard was told that it would be only by the “Grace of God” that they could find out who she was, and she became known as Grace Doe.
Her autopsy revealed that she had been sexually assaulted and murdered approximately two months prior to her discovery. Grace Doe was found restrained with six different types of bindings: nylon and lead ropes, coaxial and telephone cables, paracord, and clothesline. Investigators determined that the paracord was military grade MIL-C-5040H type II – a rope that was exclusively sold to the military in the 1990’s. For 30 years, she remained McDonald County’s only unidentified persons case.
The anthropological analyses provided by SEMO anthropology students under the supervision of Dr. Jennifer Bengtson contributed valuable new information to help move the investigation forward. In Jan 2021 the Sheriff’s Office received information from Othram Inc. that there were candidate relatives identified for Grace Doe.
Othram asked the Sheriff’s Office to contact candidate relatives and investigators made contact with Danielle Pixler. During the conversation, Ms. Pixler stated that she had a half-sister, Shawna Garber, that had been in foster care in Garnett, Kansas and then went back into state care. Danielle did not know what happened with Shawna after she left foster care. After Shawna left foster care, Danielle stated that she had been looking for Shawna for over 28 years.
Danielle agreed to contribute a DNA sample, which allowed investigators to identify Grace as Shawna Beth Garber. Anyone with information that could aid the investigation into what might have happened to her is encouraged to contact the McDonald County Sheriff’s Office at (417) 223-4319.
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