The human bones found last week in a dead man's storage unit in southeastern Kentucky have been confirmed to be those of his wife, who was reported missing in 1997, Whitley County Coroner Andy Croley said in a release Tuesday.
Dental records confirmed the identity of the remains as Doris Anne Wood, 42, of Newark, Del., who has been missing since July 1997. The remains were also identified using the National Missing and Unidentified Person System, known as NamUs. The NamUs staff worked with state officials to confirm the findings.
The bones were found Thursday by a man who bought the contents of the storage unit in Corbin at auction after the death this year of Robert A. Wood, who had rented the unit. The unit's contents also included clothing and an electric train collection.
Wood had rented the storage unit since 2002, the coroner said.
The Whitley County coroner's office sent the bones to the Kentucky state medical examiner's office for analysis.
The cause and manner of Doris Wood's death is under investigation by Croley and Detective Rusty Hedrick of the Corbin police department.
Robert Wood died in May at age 59 in an Alabama hospital. Wood moved to Corbin after his wife's disappearance — one of several places where he lived out his years. He eventually settled in Scottsboro, Ala., where he worked at a grocery store.
"She went missing, he had her bones, they were married," Corbin police Maj. Rob Jones said. "Take from it what you will."
It was Robert Wood who contacted Delaware authorities about his wife's disappearance, said Cpl. John Weglarz Sr., a spokesman for New Castle County police in Delaware. Police interviewed Wood several times but "there was no evidence obtained to substantiate that he was a suspect," he said.
Delaware authorities had been told that Doris Wood was on her way to visit her sister but never arrived.
New Castle County, Del., police returned to the couple's home several years after her disappearance, but a search of the property turned up no clues, Weglarz said.
In Corbin, police searched two homes where Robert Wood had lived, looking in the attics and crawl spaces, Jones said. Their search also turned up nothing, Jones said.
"That's where we're at," he said. "We're still investigating it."
In Scottsboro, Robert Wood lived alone and worked at the store until he became sick, a co-worker said. He didn't seem to have any family in the area, she said. He seemed like a nice man, she said, and his co-workers would give him rides home from work because he didn't have a car.
"You would have never in a million years believed that a dead body was found in his storage building," said the co-worker, who declined to give her name. "We were all in complete shock."