DNA Solves Mysterious Case of ‘The Head in the Forest’

The decapitated remains were those of Susan Lund, missing since 1992 — but who killed her?

Verity Partington
4 min readMar 14, 2022


Susan Lund (Image: Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office)

Police in Illinois have reopened a decades-old cold case after genetic genealogy helped to identify a decapitated human head found in a forest almost 30 years ago.

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office announced at a press conference that the remains discovered in a park in the town of Ina in January 1993 belonged to mother-of-three Susan Lund, 25.

Susan Lund vanishes

Susan and her husband lived in Clarksville with their children, all under the age of six, and Susan was pregnant with their fourth child when she dashed out to the grocery store on Christmas Eve 1992. She was never seen again.

Paul Lund, a soldier at nearby Fort Campbell, reported his wife missing and told investigators Susan would not simply have left their family behind without so much as a word.

However, despite beginning an extensive search, Clarksville Police abandoned it after two weeks amid speculation that Susan had left home of her own accord and was living happily in Hopkinsville, Kentucky.

They claimed that not only had she been seen there the week after Christmas, but that she had also been sighted on Interstate 65 near Louisville “looking thin, pale, attired in the same clothes she was wearing the night she vanished”, according to the Leaf-Chronicle on February 24th 1993.

This should arguably have been cause for concern — after all, why would Susan have been wearing the same clothes if she had run away and was happily living elsewhere? However, although Paul Lund protested and pointed out that no checks from the book she was carrying at the time of her disappearance had been cashed, investigators persisted in closing the missing persons case.

Failing to join the dots

Meanwhile, as Paul and the rest of the family searched in vain for Susan, two little girls were about to make a grisly discovery while they played in Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park close to the town of Ina.



Verity Partington

A writer and author of crime thrillers living in the UK. Partial to books, stationery, papercrafts and walking. You can find her books on Amazon here: https://a