(St. Martinville, La.) Sheriff Becket Breaux announced on Monday, that following a 40-year long investigation to determine the identity of a female victim who died in an early morning pedestrian fatality in 1981 has come to an end. The female was killed in the incident on I-10 Westbound in Breaux Bridge, LA, on December 5, 1981.
The victim has been identified as Michele Elaine Oakes Boutilier aka Michele Oakes-Gautreaux, who at the time of her death, was 26-years old. Her last known address prior to her death was in Cut-Off Louisiana.
Upon initial investigation of the incident, law enforcement officers were unable to locate any personal identification in her belongings that may have assisted them in identifying her. Several attempts were made to locate her next of kin, but to no avail.
She was ultimately laid to rest in March 1982, after a burial plot was provided by St. Bernard Church and a tomb, casket and services were provided by Pellerin Funeral Home. As reported previously, two Breaux Bridge residents looked after her grave site until their deaths. Following their deaths, an unidentified person took over the care of her grave site to ensure that she was not forgotten.
Several local and federal law enforcement agencies in adjoining states were provided with information both at the time of her death and throughout the years to see if any of their missing persons cases were linked to this case, however, no match was ever established. LSU FACES Laboratory also assisted in the investigation by creating a facial approximation in an attempt to identify her along with information about her case being entered into their database. Additionally, her body was exhumed in December of 2006 to develop an anthropological profile, and following the exhumation, DNA samples were extracted.
With the hope of utilizing social media to find a family member or friend, the St. Martin Parish Sheriff’s Office created a Facebook post on December 14, 2017. Following that post, several hundred tips, inquiries and well wishes poured in from across the United States and a few foreign countries.
On January 10, 2022, the sheriff’s office received a Facebook message that ultimately led to a potential match. DNA Samples were obtained from the parties involved and were sent to LSU FACES Laboratory, Louisiana State Police Crime Laboratory and the University of North Texas Health Science Center for Human Identification for analyzation and comparison. Following extensive testing, it was determined to be a match.
The St. Martin Parish Sheriff’s Officer thanked Dr. Teresa Wilson, Dr. Ginesse Listi, and the LSU FACES Lab staff for their assistance, guidance, and direction over the last several years. The sheriff’s office said, “We cannot express enough the appreciation we had for your accessibility and willingness to answer the many questions that we had. Thank you also to the University of North Texas Health Science Center for Human Identification and the Louisiana State Police Crime Laboratory for your assistance in reference to this case.”