Smith was 16 years old when her mother filed a runaway report with Midland police after having not seen her for four days, according to DPS.
The DNA results were then put into the Combined DNA Index System, DPS said, in the hopes of finding a match.
In 2020, after years of no results, DPS’ Texas Rangers coordinated with the Midland County District Attorney’s Office to send the remains for advanced DNA analysis that would provide a more accurate physical description, according to the statement. Results showed that the victim was African American and provided information on her eye and hair color.
A genetic genealogist examined the DNA to match it to a distant relative, DPS said, and after interviewing many potential relatives, the Rangers came across Smith’s mother, who told them her daughter had been missing since 2000. The University of North Texas verified the remains were Smith after collecting DNA samples from her relatives.