An emotional meeting for everyone
It is difficult to express the amount of emotion that was being felt by the group of people gathered together in the Faribault County Register building on Saturday, April 11.
The brother and sister of Blue Earth’s rather infamous Jane Doe, now finally identified as Michelle Busha, came here to both pick up her remains and to meet the people who had been involved with her case.
It resulted in an incredible morning. Everyone had developed a personal attachment to the long unidentified woman who had been murdered by a Minnesota State Trooper in 1980.
Her body had been found in a ditch near I-90. Her murderer went unknown for nine years until he confessed while in prison in Texas.
She was buried in a grave in Riverside Cemetery, where she remained, unidentified, until her body was exhumed last August.
Then, in March, DNA samples finally gave her an identity Michelle Busha, age 18, of Bay City, Texas.
Her family, of course, was stunned with the news. They had heard absolutely nothing for 35 years.
They had filed a missing persons report in Texas, but somehow it had never connected with the search in Faribault County for the identity of the Jane Doe who had been found here.
DNA tests back in the early 1980s were not sophisticated enough to do any kind of a match especially since Michelle Busha’s DNA?was not on file anywhere.
In 2007, a female deputy sheriff in Matagora County, Texas, talked to Michelle’s father, Don Busha, about giving a DNA sample to them. Both he and his daughter Marla did just that.
Marla says they were excited about doing so, in case Michelle’s DNA was on file somewhere in the country and they might find her.
But no match came up and the family suffered just one more blow to whatever hope they might have still had of ever finding out what happened to Michelle.
Then, when the DNA tests from Minnesota were submitted this past March, there was an almost immediate ‘hit’ with the DNA taken from the Busha family members in Texas.
I am not sure I can even imagine how shocking it must have been to have received this news. To finally learn what had happened to their family member, some 35 years earlier.
That she had been murdered, buried in a cemetery in Blue Earth, Minnesota, her identity a mystery to local authorities.
Michelle Busha’s brother and sister spent much of their time here learning all of the gruesome details of that heinous crime committed so long ago.
They even had Sheriff Mike Gormley and Chief Deputy Scott Adams take them to spot the murder occurred and the drainage ditch where her body had been dumped.
Again, I can’t imagine how tough that must have been.
They learned all about Michelle’s killer, Robert Leroy Nelson, and how he is in prison in Texas for other crimes, but is eligible for parole again this year.
They now vow to attend every parole hearing from now on and testify as to why this murderer of their sister should not be set free. Much like Blue Earth’s Deb Anderson has done in the past.
Michelle’s brother Don says he has gone by the prison Nelson is incarcerated in many, many times. Now he will not pass it by again without thoughts of what that killer did to his sister.
Michelle’s exhumed remains were cremated, and the two siblings plan on taking her home to Bay City, Texas, where they will have a family gathering and remembrance of her all too short life.
But, it was not just the family members who were facing the emotions of the situation. Law enforcement officers who had worked on the case had a definite connection to this person they had never met, and to her family they were just meeting now.
The Busha family members were so grateful for everything people in this community had done. From the tireless effort to keep working to find out Jane Doe’s identity, to having a gravestone for her, to furnishing a casket before, an urn now, and for showing how much a community can care about a stranger.
There were tears, hugs and even some happy smiles that at long last, this case could be considered closed and a family finally knows what happened to someone they have never stopped loving, or wondering where she could be.
She was here in Blue Earth, Minnesota. For 35 years. But no more.
She is now finally back home.