It’s a big step forward — but there are still miles to go.
Mostly unacknowledged in her short life, Keri Lyn Wyant was anonymous in death for 25 years.
But that’s no longer the case, thanks to advances in technology and first-rate investigative work by the Champaign County sheriff’s and coroner’s offices.
Authorities this week revealed that they have finally identified the body of a young woman found in 1995 in a farm field near Thomasboro.
The victim of a homicide — her cause of death remains publicly undisclosed — Miss Wyant was born in Galesburg in October 1971 and led a wandering, depressing life before she was killed and her body dumped in 1995.
Miss Wyant was identified after DNA extracted from her remains was compared to DNA uploaded to open source genealogy sites.
This is serious science that is incomprehensible to all but experts. The bottom line, however, is one that everyone can understand — this poor woman has now been identified. That’s a crucial step forward.
It’s pretty clear that, for whatever reasons, Miss Wyant never had much going for her in life.
No one ever reported her missing, a fact attributable both to her nomadic lifestyle and a lack of interest by associates.
In that respect, she was a perfect victim, someone that no one would miss or, if they did, would care that she was missing.
Authorities said Miss Wyant left home at 14, moved often and worked sporadically.
She may have been brought to Champaign County by a carnival company that was booked at the Fisher Fair.
Then again, her only connection to Champaign County may be that it was the place where her assailant, after killing Miss Wyant elsewhere, dumped her body.
It is often the case in criminal investigations of this nature — complex circumstances haunted by the passage of time — that answering one question only raises others.
So it’s impossible to say where this investigation will go — if anywhere.
At one time, however, identification of the victim seemed improbable, if not impossible. That hurdle, however, has been cleared.
It is sadly ironic that more people care about this woman in death than they did during her life. But that is the way it often is with those who live on the fringes of society.
But care society must. Miss Wyant was the victim of a brutal crime, and her body tossed away in a most cruel and cavalier fashion.
The wrong done to her demands redress, and local authorities are giving it their best shot, however long it may take.