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DNA identifies teen murder victim whose remains were found in 1980

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CLARK COUNTY, Wash. -- A teen whose remains were found in 1980 along a creek in rural Southwestern Washington has been identified almost 40 years later.

Sandy Morden

Now, investigators are asking for the public's help in gathering information about the final years of Sandy Morden's life.

According to the Clark County Sheriff's Office, the investigation began in 1980 with the discovery of human skeletal remains along Fly Creek near Amboy, Washington, in rural Clark County. The girl, believed to be female and in her mid to late teens, was the victim of a homicide. 

Three facial reconstructions and media releases were unsuccessful in identifying the victim, but DNA and genealogy tests have since confirmed that her name was Sandy Morden.

Investigators are now seeking background information on the following people who resided in the Portland-Vancouver area between 1970 and 1980: 

  • Sandra Renee (“Sandy”) Morden, born in 1962 and who was a juvenile in the 1970s
  • Andrew Bain (“Andy”) Morden, Sandy’s father, who was born in 1930 and who would have been in his 40s in the 1970s
  • Kathryn Irene (“Irene”) Morden, Sandy’s mother, who was born in 1938, whose maiden name was Long, and who would have been in her 30s during the 1970s. 

The Mordens moved to Portland from the San Francisco Bay area. 

Andy Morden, who was a Marine Corps veteran of the Korean War era, worked in the maritime trades on tugboats providing

Sandy and Andy Morden

service to pulp, paper and logging interests on the Willamette and Columbia Rivers. 

Andy and Irene were divorced in the early 1970s, with Andy assuming custody of Sandy. 

Following the divorce, Irene lived separately at various locations in Portland and in the Bay area. Andy and Sandy lived in Portland and Vancouver. Sandy attended Binnesmead Middle School (now Harrison Park Middle School) on S.E. 87th Avenue in Portland in 1974 and 1975. 

She attended Gaiser Middle School on N.E. 99th Street in Vancouver in 1975 and 1976. She attended Wilson High School on S.W. Vermont Street in Portland in 1976 and 1977. 

Irene Morden passed away in San Francisco in 1988. Andy Morden retired to Ilwaco, Washington, where he died in 1999. 

Sandy’s whereabouts between May 1977 and February 1980 have yet to be determined. 

Detectives want to hear from friends, acquaintances, neighbors, coworkers, fellow veterans and classmates of Andy, Irene and Sandy Morden, particularly those who interacted with them after 1970.

Anyone with information can contact Detective Lindsay Schultz at 360-397-2036.

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