Body Part Identified As Missing Lowell Woman
A skeletal foot and ankle bone recovered on the bank of the Merrimack River in West Newbury in April, 2011, has been positively identified as a Lowell woman who was reported missing in November, 2006, District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett announced today.
Helena Fells (DOB: 10/21/57) was last seen in Lowell on November 26, 2006. Police found her parked car near the Merrimack River and a search dog tracked her scent from the car to the river’s edge. While it was believed that she had drowned, a search of the river produced no results.
On April 12, 2011 West Newbury Police notified the Massachusetts State Police detectives assigned to the Essex District Attorney's Office that an environmental clean-up company had recovered a human foot and ankle bone inside of what appeared to be a female shoe. An extensive search of the area was conducted using a State Police Canine and produced no further findings.
Through the investigation, detectives learned that two women were reported missing in the vicinity of the Merrimack River in the past several years. DNA samples were taken from a member of each woman’s family. The samples were analyzed by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Laboratory for Mitochondrial DNA testing and Cellmark Forensic Laboratory for nuclear DNA testing.
Last week, the Essex District Attorney's Office was notified by Cellmark that there was a 99.99% probability that the remains and the sample given by Ms. Fells’ sister were in fact siblings.
“I commend the hard work and efforts of Trooper Anthony Schena and Sargent Barry Brodette for their tireless work in making this identification,” District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said. “I hope that this identification provides the family of Helena Fells some small measure of comfort.”