Police identify woman’s remains found in Henry County

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Human remains found by two bike-riding kids in rural Henry County are those of a woman who had been missing for nearly a year.

A human skull and bones were found in a ditch along Old Highway 34 March 17, 2012. 

The remains were later identified as being female.

Investigators said Wednesday, May 23, 2012 the remains are those of 24-year-old Jackie Douthart of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa.  Jackie disappeared May 22, 2011. 

Police said the last person to see her alive was Benjamin Biggs, who saw Jackie just after midnight May 22, 2011.  After police identified him as a person of interest in the case, Biggs allegedly led police on a high-speed chase after he stole a vehicle in Quincy, Illinois on June 29, 2011.  During the pursuit Biggs allegedly shot two police officers but protective clothing prevented them from being injured. 

Biggs was later found barricaded inside a home.  Police said they found him, suffering from a fatal gunshot wound to his head.

Police said Jackie was engaged to another man, and had met Biggs just a few days prior to her disappearance.

More than 1,100 people followed a Facebook page dedicated to solving Jackie Douthart’s disappearance.

DNA testing on the remains was inconclusive because they had been exposed for a long period of time.  Jackie’s remains were identified through a combination of forensic testing and identifying personal items including a watch, ring and fingernails her family said belonged to her.   

The cause of Jackie’s death was not yet determined.  Additional testing on the remains is scheduled at a lab in Minnesota.  Police say it could take six to 12 months to get those results. 

A statement was read on behalf of Jackie’s family at a May 23 news conference.   They thanked investigators for their work on the case.

The statement also said, “In the last year, we have missed her energetic and fun loving personality every day.  No words can express how difficult the last year has been.  This is not how we would have wished for this to end.  Our hope was that Jackie would be found alive and happy.”