Woman found along Georgia highway 37 years ago identified through DNA as missing Florida mother

A woman who was discovered unconscious along a Georgia highway and later died has finally been identified though DNA technology after nearly four decades, investigators said Tuesday.

Mary Anga Cowan, also known as “Angie,” had vanished from Seminole County, Florida, and she was later discovered injured and unconscious by a passerby on the side of Highway 91 north of Newton, Georgia, on May 14, 1985, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said. 

However, authorities couldn’t identify her at the time.

She was taken to the hospital in Albany, where she died from her injuries just weeks later.

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Mary Anga Cowan, also known as "Angie," was identified through DNA technology 37 years after she was found unconscious and injured on the side of a roadway in Georgia.

Mary Anga Cowan, also known as “Angie,” was identified through DNA technology 37 years after she was found unconscious and injured on the side of a roadway in Georgia.
(Georgia Bureau of Investigation)

Investigators at the time said her manner of death was undetermined and the cause of death was subdural hematoma secondary to blunt force trauma to the head.

In 2012, investigators exhumed the body and took a bone sample that they sent to a private company for isotope analysis. But the effort failed to produce any leads on whom the woman was.

Investigators used genealogical DNA analysis to narrow down the woman's identity before contacting her potential family members for a final comparison.

Investigators used genealogical DNA analysis to narrow down the woman’s identity before contacting her potential family members for a final comparison.
(TEK IMAGE/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY via Getty Images)

A decade later, GBI partnered with the FBI to have a genealogical DNA analysis completed on the woman.

The test determined a high probability that the woman was Cowan, leading agents to obtain DNA from one of her children. The DNA comparison showed a parent and child relationship between the two samples.

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Cowan’s daughter told FOX35 Orlando that while she was shocked to have gotten a call from the FBI about her mother, she already had a feeling that her mother had died.

Cowan's daughter, Angelique Hall, told FOX35 in Orlando that she was shocked by the FBI's phone call about what happened to her mother.

Cowan’s daughter, Angelique Hall, told FOX35 in Orlando that she was shocked by the FBI’s phone call about what happened to her mother.
(iStock)

“I knew she was gone.” Angelique Hall said. “And I never imagined they would find her. This is a shock from Georgia finding out that not only her body was found but that a town picked her up out of a ditch and took care of her last days. She was loved, and I hear [she was] buried.”

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The circumstances of Cowan’s death remain unanswered. 

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