Darlene Rene McKenzie was a teenager who was murdered along Interstate 696 in Farmington Hills, Michigan. McKenzie had disappeared earlier that year. She was identified in 2016 through DNA comparison.
McKenzie had been reported missing before the identification of her body, although her absence was not reported until approximately the fall of 2015. What is known about her disappearance is that she left her home after a disagreement with family, and she contacted them once by telephone. She left behind her infant daughter. During her brief duration on missing person databases, her disappearance was approximated to have taken place between 1975 and 1976, which caused her to occasionally be listed as 17.
Her body was discovered approximately two or three days after death, in a recognizable condition. She was fully-clothed with the exception of footwear; a bus ticket was in her possession, purchased four days before she was found. Her cause of death was determined to be strangulation, and her age was estimated to be between 15 and 25. A blood sample was taken prior to her burial, which was used for a future DNA extraction.
The possibility of McKenzie being a runaway was noted, although authorities later stated that she had possibly been killed in the same city she resided and transported to Farmington Hills.
McKenzie's family submitted their own DNA in hopes that it would match an individual in the system. After these samples were processed, a potential match was discovered in 2016. The DNA profile from the 1975 blood drawing could not prove a definitive identification. This prompted the exhumation of McKenzie's body in October, which yielded a stronger similarity in DNA, effectively determining her identity.
After the link between the two cases was confirmed, McKenzie's daughter expressed that she felt the crime had not been committed by a stranger.