Iowa Department of Public Safety
215 East 7th Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50319
www.dps.state.ia.us

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For immediate release: Alex Murphy
  DCI Public Information Officer
Investigative Operations
Iowa Department of Public Safety
Wednesday, May 23, 2012 amurphy@dps.state.ia.us
(515) 443-3014 - cell
(515) 725-6189 - office

Skeletal Remains Thought To Be Mt. Pleasant Woman Missing Since Last May

Local Contact:
Special Agent Jeff Uhlmeyer
(319) 759-2541

Mt. Pleasant, Iowa- On May 22, 2011, Jackie Douthart was reported missing to the Mt. Pleasant Police Department by her fiancé and family members.  At the time, Jackie Douthart was 24 years old.  Upon receiving the missing persons report, Mt. Pleasant Police and the Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) immediately started investigating Douthart’s whereabouts on the evening hours of May 21, 2011 and into the early morning hours of May 22, 2011.

Jackie Douthart on Missing Person’s Information Clearinghouse

During the course of the investigation, several individuals were developed as persons of interest related to Douthart’s disappearance.  Through interviews and polygraph examinations, most of those individuals were eliminated from the scope of the investigation.  The investigation did reveal that Benjamin Biggs was the last person seen with Jackie Douthart shortly after midnight on May 22, 2011.  Biggs was interviewed several times related to Douthart’s disappearance.

On June 29, 2011, Benjamin Biggs stole a vehicle in Quincy, Illinois and led police on a high-speed chase.  During that incident, Biggs shot two police officers. Due to protective clothing, the officers were not injured.  Biggs later barricaded himself in a home and was eventually found dead with a gunshot wound to the head.  As a result of an investigation by the Illinois State Police and findings from an autopsy, Benjamin Biggs’ death was ruled a suicide.

The DCI and Mt. Pleasant Police Department continued to investigate the disappearance of Jackie Douthart since the death of Benjamin Biggs.

On March 17, 2012, human remains were found in Henry County along Old Hwy 34, near the Henry-Jefferson County line.  The skeletal remains were sent to the State Medical Examiner’s Office and to a forensic anthropologist.  Those examinations revealed the remains are that of a female between the ages of 24 and 32, and between the height of 5 feet, 3 inches and 5 feet, 7 inches.  In addition, the time of death was determined to be sometime during the summer or early fall of 2011.  At this time, the cause of death is undetermined.

The DCI Crime Lab has made several attempts to develop a DNA profile from the skeletal remains.  However, due to the bones being exposed to environmental conditions presumably since last summer, nuclear DNA testing failed to develop a DNA profile.  The remains will now be sent to another forensic laboratory that specializes in mitochondrial DNA testing which may aid in developing a DNA profile.  In addition, a forensic odontologist is continuing to examine the skeletal remains in hopes of identifying the remains through dental records.

The DCI and Mt. Pleasant Police have continued to work with the family of Jackie Douthart since her disappearance and the discovery of the skeletal remains.  On March 17, 2012, several items, including a ring and watch, were recovered along with the remains.  These items have been identified by family members as those belonging to Jackie Douthart.

While no scientific identification has been made, at this time officials believe the human remains are that of Jackie Douthart due to the anthropologist’s findings and the identification of personal items by family members.  The DCI and State Medical Examiner’s Office will continue attempts to scientifically identify the remains through DNA analysis.  The remains will be maintained by the State Medical Examiner’s Office until mitochondrial DNA testing is complete, at which time the remains will be released for proper burial services.

The Division of Criminal Investigation, Mt. Pleasant Police Department, Henry County Sheriff’s Office and the State Medical Examiner’s Office would like to thank the family and friends of Jackie Douthart for their continued patience and cooperation during this investigation. 

The DCI and Mt. Pleasant Police will continue to investigate leads related to the disappearance and death of Jackie Douthart.  Persons with information are urged to call the Mt. Pleasant Police Department at (319) 385-1450.

The following agencies assisted with the investigation:

Mt. Pleasant Police Department
Henry County Sheriff’s Office
Henry County Attorney’s Office
Division of Criminal Investigation
DCI Crime Laboratory
Henry County Medical Examiner
State Medical Examiner’s Office
Burlington Police Department
Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office
Iowa State Patrol
Division of Intelligence
Quincy Illinois Police Department
Illinois State Police
Adams County Illinois Sheriff’ Office

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Note: A criminal charge is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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