A woman who died in 1990 in Huntington Beach after being hit by two cars has been identified, Orange County Sheriff’s officials said Thursday, May 11. Last week, Orange County coroner’s office confirmed that Andrea Kuiper of Fairfax, Va., was the woman who remained a mystery for 27 years. She was 26 at the time of her death.
On the evening of April 1, 1990, a car traveling on Pacific Coast Highway west of Newland Street struck a woman who was crossing the street. She was thrown from that vehicle and hit by a second before dying at the scene, according to Register news reports from 1990. Neither of the drivers was detained in the crash.
Huntington Beach police investigators and the coroner’s office at the time couldn’t identify her. When she died, she was wearing a black dress, pink sweater, pink heels and a ring made of human hair wrapped around her left ring finger, Sheriff’s officials said Thursday.
At the time, her information was submitted to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Register news reports of the original crash show that investigators thought she could have been as young as 17. The center created images of what Kuiper might have looked like and circulated them in the media, including a feature on the television show “Unsolved Mysteries,” but she remained a Jane Doe.
Her identity remained a mystery that coroner’s officials never forgot. When the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System was created in 2010, coroner’s officials input the woman’s information hoping for a hit but to no avail.
Coroner investigators revisited the case eight months ago after learning Kuiper may have had connections in Newport News, Va., but again there were no more answers.
Early this year, the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System paired with the FBI on a project that closely examines fingerprints against others in the system.
On May 4, the FBI notified the Orange County coroner’s office that officials found a match. Kuiper’s fingerprints were matched with others she’d given when she applied for a government job years before, Lt. Lane Lagaret said.
Her parents and brother were notified of the discovery with the help of Fairfax law enforcement. They requested privacy but said through the Sheriff’s Department that their daughter was clever and loved art. She made pictures for her parents, many of which they still have. But she also suffered from manic depression and started using drugs before moving to California shortly before she died.
About two months before her death, a friend of Kuiper’s called her family to say she was “OK.” That was the last they knew of her.
“We are thankful to know what happened to our daughter after all these years,” her father, Richard Kuiper, said. “Andrea was loved and respected. She was beautiful.”
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