Hayfield Family Learns Fate of Woman Missing for Almost 50 Years
St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM News) - DNA samples provided by family members from Hayfield have allowed investigators to finally identify a young woman found dead in an abandoned and burned home in east-central Minnesota almost 50-years-ago. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the Mille Lacs County Sheriff's Department today identified the remains discovered on November 10, 1970, as 18-year-old Gloria Frieda Rieken.
The Minneapolis woman was a freshman at the University of Minnesota when she vanished. She was last seen alive leaving her apartment on foot headed to class in early November 1970. Tragically, her father passed away on January 19 without ever learning of her fate. An obituary posted by the Czaplewski Family Funeral Home indicates Peter Rieken was 100-years-old.
The cause of Gloria's death remains a mystery. Officials in Mille Lacs County were able to rule out the fire as the cause but never determined what killed her. Without identification, a determination on how she died, or how she came to be in the burned up home, the case was never resolved and the remains were eventually interred at a cemetery in Mille Lacs County.
A little over five years ago, several members of Rieken's family provided DNA samples for comparison to unidentified remains as part of the state's Missing and Unidentified Persons Clearinghouse program. Those DNA samples provided the information needed to make a positive identification after the previously unidentified remains were exhumed in Mille Lacs County last year.
“This is not the ending any family would hope for, but it is information,” said BCA Superintendent Drew Evans. “After a half-century of waiting and wondering, the Rieken’s can, at last, bring Gloria home to rest.”
Investigators are now asking the public to come forward with information about Rieken's disappearance, stressing that even the smallest detail could help. Anyone with information about Gloria Rieken is urged to contact the Mille Lacs County Sheriff’s Office at 320-983-8250, or the BCA at 651-793-7000, 877-996-6222, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tips can be anonymous.