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After decades of grief and uncertainty, a family is finally getting the facts, if not closure, of what happened to Susan Gale Poole.

New DNA has been used to identify her remains, which were found tied to a tree in 1975. The skeletal remains were among mangroves along A1A in an area known as Burnt Bridges. Poole went missing three years earlier, just before Christmas 1972.

In a news conference last week, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Detective William Springer said, “The family was happy to know what happened. It’s been a long time waiting to [learn] what happened to their sister.”

Former Wilton Manors Police Officer Suspected

Investigators are now talking with Poole’s friends, hoping to fill in the blanks of what happened to her in 1972. But they’re already honing in on a suspect: former Wilton Manors police officer Gerard Schaefer.

He was working for WMPD at the time, and was convicted of the brutal murders of 16-year-old Georgia Jessup and 17-year-old Susan Place. Their killings have several similarities to Poole’s, including being found in mangroves.

“He got arrested for kidnapping two girls, taking them out on A1A and tying them up in the mangroves,” Springer said. “He was convicted for killing several girls that were also tied up in the mangroves.”

Schaffer is connected to more than 30 deaths, but won’t be able to shed any light on Poole’s case. He died in prison in 1995 after being stabbed by another inmate. Most evidence linking him to Poole’s murder is circumstantial.