SEATTLE (CN) — After 38 years, investigators have identified one of the last unknown victims of the Green River Killer through DNA testing as Washington state teenager Lori Anne Razpotnik, the King County Sheriff’s Office announced on Tuesday.

According to authorities, the victim’s family last saw the 15-year-old in 1982 when she ran away from her Lewis County home. On Dec. 30, 1985, Auburn city employees discovered Razpotnik’s and one other woman’s remains while investigating a car over an embankment, prompting King County’s Green River Task Force to get involved.

In 2002, American serial killer Gary Ridgway — dubbed the “Green River Killer” — led investigators to the same location and admitted to placing his victims there. The confession arrived a year after authorities arrested Ridgway for the murders of five young women in the Seattle area and, by November 2003, the number quickly grew to 49 — though he said he killed 71.

The identification of Razpotnik brings investigators a step closer to identifying nearly all of the women and teenage girls Ridgway was convicted of killing in the 1980s and 1990s. Until this week, investigators referred to Razpotnik as “Bones 17,” whereas the other woman found, “Bones 16”, had been identified through DNA testing as Sandra Denise Majors, 20, of Seattle.

The discovery also brings some closure for Razpotnik’s mother, Donna Hurley, 76, who helped forensic genealogists confirm her daughter’s DNA through a saliva sample. In an interview with the New York Times on Wednesday, Hurley described her daughter as an energetic and intelligent child, though running away had become common before her disappearance.

The most recent victim identified before Razpotnik was Wendy Stephens, 14, of Denver. Investigators identified Stephens in 2020, 38 years after investigators found her remains in the Seattle area. One set of remains, discovered in 2003, is still unidentified.

Ridgway pleaded guilty to the murder of Razpotnik and 48 other young women in 2003 and currently serving 49 consecutive life sentences in Washington state.

More From Missoula Current