Only the hair color seemed a bit off: Lee’s was dirty blond, while police believed the dead woman’s was brown.
But on Friday, county police said that the remains are those of Lee, who left her Brooklyn Park home May 8 without her cellphone or identification and was last seen at the Shoppers Food Warehouse near her neighborhood.
When the remains were found, police had said that the victim had been killed by blows to the upper body and the case was ruled a homicide. Now, a family that had hoped to find Lee alive — she was mother to a 16-month-old girl — must confront her violent death.
“I have no idea what happened,” said Lee’s mother, Ann Burke, who tearfully cut an interview short on Friday. “Right now, we can’t say anything.”
Burke did say that when the skeletal remains were discovered, she never thought they could be her daughter’s. A county police spokesman, Justin Mulcahy, said at the time that the remains “do not appear to be matching up with any of our missing persons.”
On Friday, Mulcahy said that statement was based on information before the county police’s crime lab matched Lee’s DNA to the remains.
A person walking behind Ollie’s Bargain Outlet found the skull shortly before 3 p.m. Aug. 6 in the 8100 block of Ritchie Highway in Pasadena. Police cadaver dogs found the rest of the remains in the woods, about 10 miles south of where Lee was last seen.
In Facebook posts, Lee’s family described the woman, known as Jessie, as emotionally challenged and “extremely vulnerable.”
Relatives said in the posts, which the mother confirmed were accurate, that Lee enjoyed going to malls and carnivals, hanging out with friends and bringing stray dogs home. But the posts also describe her naivete.
“Jessie talks to just about everyone she sees,” one post reads. “No matter if she’s known them for a long time or just met them that very second, she would tell them her life story and think that they were the best of friends. She would trust everything they told her.”
Mulcahy did not provide any update on the homicide investigation. No arrests have been made.