Remains of Missing Teen Identified, 32 Years Later - NBC4 Washington

Remains of Missing Teen Identified, 32 Years Later

Remains found in 1982, but had never been linked to Cynthia Gastelle

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    More than three decades after a Takoma Park teen went missing, the remains of Cynthia Gastelle have been identified.

    Gastelle's family reported her missing on April 3, 1980. She was 18.

    "We had hoped would come back," said Peter Gastelle, Cynthia's brother, during a press conference Wednesday. "We now know Cindy was taken from us. Our hope is gone, and our hearts are broken again. [Our] hope lies with you, our friends and neighbors. Please come forward and help close the case."

    Two years later after Gastelle vanished, skeletal remains were found on Bull Run Mountain in Haymarket, Va. But investigators never linked them to Gastelle, who'd lived about 45 miles away.

    "At this time, we [still] don't see any connection between Cynthia Gastelle and northern Virginia," a Prince William County police offer said Wednesday.

    Gastelle didn't drive, so investigators believe she was brought to Virginia. Her remains were found three-quarters of a mile off Route 15, in a secluded area of the woods.

    Over the years, her father would be called in by investigators to look at remains and visit morgues, said another brother, Greg Gastelle.

    In 2001, investigators entered DNA from the remains found nearly 20 years earlier into a national database. Last year, DNA from family members was collected in an unrelated case -- and last month, Prince William County police were notified of a match.

    A forensic scientist credited advances in science since Gastelle went missing. This type of DNA test was first used in Virginia in 2008. This case is the fifth time there has been a hit in Virginia with this test.

    Prior to his sister's disappearance, Peter Gastelle says, Cynthia Gastelle had been going to job interviews in Takoma Park. She had a GED and a cosmetology certificate, but had decided she didn't want to work in that field.

    On the day she disappeared, one deli had called with a job offer. But that night she didn't return home.

    Now police are investigating the case as a homicide. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Solvers at 866-411-TIPS.

    Police also would like to speak to the man in the picture below. He was once Gastelle's boyfriend and lived in Takoma Park in 1980. He went by "Mike" or "Michael."

    If he could speak to Cynthia today, Peter Gastelle said he would tell her, "We love you and always have... always will."

    Stay with NBCWashington.com and NBC4 for more on this developing story.