A woman who was the pedestrian victim in a crash on I-10 westbound in Breaux Bridge over forty years ago has finally been identified after law enforcement officials refused to give up on finding out her identity.

On December 5, 1981, in the early morning, St. Martin Parish Sheriff's officials say an unidentified woman died on the interstate without any personal identification on her. Law enforcement officers say they tried several times to locate her next of kin but were not able to make that connection.

Though the woman was still unidentified, the community of Breaux Bridge stepped up, laying her to rest in March 0f 1982 after a burial plot was provided by St. Bernard Church. Pellerin's Funeral Home provided the tomb, casket, and services. Then, an unidentified person took over the care of her grave so the victim's memory would not be forgotten.

Law enforcement officials from other surrounding states were notified of her death so they could see if any of their missing person cases were linked to this case, but no match was made.

LSU FACES Laboratory also helped investigators by creating a facial approximation in efforts to identify her. That also allowed them to enter her information into their database.

Her body was exhumed in December of 2006 to develop an anthropological profile and DNA samples were ultimately extracted.

Social media then came into the picture as the St. Martin Parish Sheriff’s Office created a Facebook post on December 14, 2017, hoping to get in touch with a family member or friend if the victim. What they received were several hundred tips, inquiries, and well wishes to pour in from people across the United States and even a few other countries.

Then came January 10, 2022. That’s when the most important Facebook message came in, leading authorities to a potential match. Obtained DNA samples 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 a match.

26-year-old Michele Elaine Oakes Boutilier aka Michele Oakes-Gautreaux has been identified as the victim. Her last known address before her death was in Cut-Off, Louisiana.

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