Missing mom’s skull identified 19 years later

A skull found a mile downstream in 1996 where a 56-year-old woman went missing has been confirmed to belong to Patricia Louise Tamosaitis.

Patricia of Medical Lake, Washington was on the Class IV Snow Hole Rapids in the Salmon River in Idaho on a kayak on Aug. 28, 1994, when it overturned.  Although her friend surfaced Patricia never did. Patricia’s life jacket and part of her swimsuit was found later, but Patricia was never found. 

In 1996, a skull was found about a mile downstream where Patricia’s kayak overturned.  It was sent to the University of Idaho for identification and the college identified the skull as belonging to a young Native-American male. The Idaho County Sheriff’s Office just didn’t feel that was correct, but at the time did not have the man power or time to follow up.  In 2012, after reviewing old cases, the officers found the skull and remembering their feeling they thought the previous identification was wrong, sent the skull to the  University of North Texas Center for Human Identification.  The center concluded it was a woman between the ages of 30 to 60.  They followed up with DNA testing and found a match between Patricia and her children.  

“We trusted our gut and the DNA ultimately settled the question,” Lt. Jerry Johnson told the Seattle Times.

It was theorized that Patricia likely got stuck under a boulder when she fell out of the kayak.

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Jerrie Dean, who is retired from Federal Law Enforcement, is the Founder of Missing Persons of America.