Skull found in woods ID’d as woman missing since 1990

File photo of trees. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — A skull found by children playing in the woods 16 years ago has finally been identified, solving a 27-year-old mystery.

The Alachua County Sheriff’s Office and Gainesville Police Department said Thursday the remains found in Gainesville belonged to 78-year-old Ella Mae Williams, who disappeared in 1990.

Williams had dementia and is believed to have wandered off, but a cause of death has not yet been determined. The investigation is ongoing.

The children found the skull in 2001 and took it home. Their parents notified police.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement used DNA from the remains and compared those to samples from family members to obtain Williams’ identity. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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