LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Kentucky authorities solved a 16-year-old mystery when human bones found stashed in a storage unit in the Appalachian foothills were identified as a missing Delaware woman, but other questions linger — namely, how and where did Doris Wood die and who did it?
The storage unit in Corbin, Ky., had been rented to Wood's husband, Robert Wood, who died earlier this year in Alabama.
"It was a cold case, it got hot and we're trying to work it," Corbin police Maj. Rob Jones said Tuesday.
Whitley County Coroner Andy Croley said dental records were used to identify the remains.
The bones, representing much of a skeleton, had been stuffed into bags. They were found last week by a man who bought the storage unit's contents — which also included clothing and an electric train collection — at auction.
Wood had rented the storage unit since 2002, the coroner said.
Investigators are still trying to determine the circumstances of Doris Wood's death.
"Everything is still being investigated to the fullest to determine the actual cause and the manner of death," Croley said. He added that the key figure in the mystery died earlier this year.
Robert Wood died in May at age 59 in an Alabama hospital. Wood moved to Corbin after his wife's disappearance — one of several places where he lived out his years. He eventually settled in Scottsboro, Ala., where he worked at a grocery store.
"She went missing, he had her bones, they were married," Jones said. "Take from it what you will."
It was Robert Wood who contacted Delaware authorities about his wife's disappearance in July 1997, said Cpl. John Weglarz Sr., a spokesman for New Castle County police in Delaware. Police interviewed Wood several times but "there was no evidence obtained to substantiate that he was a suspect," he said.
Delaware authorities had been told that Doris Wood was on her way to visit her sister but never arrived.
New Castle County police returned to the couple's home several years after her disappearance, but a search of the property turned up no clues, Weglarz said.
In Corbin, police searched two homes where Robert Wood had lived, looking in the attics and crawl spaces, Jones said. Their search also turned up nothing, Jones said.
"That's where we're at," he said. "We're still investigating it."
In Scottsboro, Robert Wood lived alone and worked at a grocery store until he became sick, a co-worker said. He didn't seem to have any family in the area, she said. He seemed like a nice man, she said, and his co-workers would give him rides home from work because he didn't have a vehicle.
"You would have never in a million years believed that a dead body was found in his storage building," said the co-worker, who declined to give her name. "We were all in complete shock."