Target 2: A skull lost in Detroit could solve a Green Bay cold case

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Detectives believe they're closing in on a break in a Green Bay cold case dating back 14 years.

Beulah Ware was last seen in the 1400 block of Harvey on March 23, 2004. She was 47-years old when she disappeared.

Police say Beulah was living in fear and wanted to leave Green Bay before her husband, Tyrone, got out of jail.

It was a few days after Tyrone Ware's release from jail that he reported his wife missing. Ware was immediately considered a person of interest. He was killed in a car crash in 2007, taking with him possible information that could lead to answers to what happened to Beulah.

A few months ago, a new chapter opened in this investigation. The key to locking up this case may be in human remains that have gone missing.

WHERE IS BEULAH?

Noelle Harris hasn't heard from her mom, Beulah, since 2004. Shortly before her disappearance, Beulah had called her daughter and announced she was headed to Southern Illinois to visit. Beulah said she needed to leave Green Bay before Tyrone was released on domestic abuse charges.

Noelle Harris says her mother was a victim of domestic violence and afraid of Tyrone.

Noelle waited. Beulah never showed up.

"Tyrone got out and reported my mother missing two days later," Noelle Harris says.

Police labeled Beulah Ware's disappearance as suspicious. They considered Tyrone Ware a primary person of interest. In 2007, Tyrone Ware was hit by a drunk driver in Green Bay and killed.

Beulah Ware's disappearance went cold.

That changed this year when Green Bay Police Det. Dave Graf was searching his cold cases on NamUs--the national database for missing people, unclaimed remains and unidentified remains.

WHO IS JANE DOE?

Graf was looking at NamUs listings in the Midwest when a Jane Doe caught his attention. The similarities between forensic images of this unidentified woman and Beulah Ware struck him.

"The mouth, the nose, the eyes," Graf says.

He also took notice of the age, height and poor or missing teeth. They all fit with Beulah Ware's description.

A Michigan State Police Forensic Artist created the images using facial reconstruction of a skull discovered in Detroit in 2005. The skull was found a little more than a year after Beulah Ware's disappearance.

Click here for the forensic images of Jane Doe.

"She was found nude in an abandoned residence. Looked like she had been dragged in there," says Det. Dave Graf, Green Bay Police. "And there was mummified and skeletal remains."

Michigan investigators entered the Jane Doe profile into NamUs in 2010. It wasn't until this year that Det. Graf came across it.

He called Michigan State Police looking for possible DNA evidence. No DNA was taken. In 2005, they didn't have technology to extract mitochondrial DNA from bones.

"They did what they could at the time to identify the remains," Graf tells Target 2. "You can imagine, also, this is Detroit. So yes, what else can they do?"

The Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office in Detroit tells Target 2, "Those remains were never identified. They were turned over to Perry Funeral Home for a county burial in 2008."

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE SKULL?

Graf remained hopeful he could get DNA from the skull used on that facial reconstruction.

But no one seems to know what happened to the skull.

"It might be lost," Graf says. "Quite honestly. I've had some contact and they said they looked around and they can't find it. Now it could be buried. It might not be. I don't know."

The revelation raised a lot of questions: How do you lose a skull? Who is responsible for losing it?

"It might have ended up on a medical examiner's something or something," Gray says. "They did look."

Target 2 asked the Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office in Michigan about the skull. The office said it can't comment on missing body parts.

We have not received comment from Michigan State Police.

When asked if that skull could belong to Beulah Ware, Graf said, "I guess the only way you can be 100 percent sure is through ... to exhume the body and do DNA testing. And it costs money."

THE COST OF CLOSURE

Graf says exhuming a body could cost up to $3,000. That's money that Beulah's family doesn't have.

"Even if it's not my mom, I still think whoever it is deserves, you know, some closure for whose-ever family member that is," says daughter Noelle Harris.

Six years after Beulah Ware's remains were buried, Michigan law changed. State law now mandates a medical examiner's office take mitochondrial DNA from any recovered remains.

As of publication, the NamUs database listed 193 unidentified remains in Detroit.

If you have information about Beulah Ware or why should would be in Detroit, contact the Green Bay Police Department or Crime Stoppers.