By jeanne starmack
Patricia Rowe was 18 when her mother, Jacqueline, went missing in 1996.
Jacqueline Rowe, 35, was reported missing July 1 that year, according to a poster from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.
On Dec. 26, 1996, the landlord of a house in the 700 block of Park Avenue on the North Side found a woman’s decomposing body under a large box in the garage there. Her identity remained a mystery.
Patricia said Thursday she had always wondered what happened to her mother, who she said used drugs and whose four children were placed in foster care.
Two other daughters were 14 and 10 when their mother disappeared; her son was 12.
“I had a question. I wanted to ask her why she did what she did,” said Patricia, who still lives in Youngstown and now has children of her own.
She added that once her mother was diagnosed with cancer in 1994, she stopped using drugs.
“She loved us, but she couldn’t take care of us,” Patricia said. “She did her best. I know she loved us.”
Patricia said she searched for her mother in obituaries, cancer centers and morgues.
In April and then again in August, she gave Youngstown police a swab containing her DNA.
The sample was submitted to an Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation program called Linking Individuals Not Known.
On Dec. 5, the woman found under the box in the garage was identified as Jacqueline Rowe.
“We got our answer,” said Patricia, who endured seeing pictures of her mother’s body. “It wasn’t the answer we wanted.”
Patricia said the coroner ruled her mother’s death as undetermined due to decomposition, and the police don’t know what happened to her.
She’s frustrated, and she cites some discrepancies in the description of her mother’s remains.
Police described her as “partially dressed” and wearing a shirt, but from what she could tell, her mother had on only one sock and a shoe, she said.
Neither Youngstown detectives nor representatives from the Mahoning County Coroner’s office could be reached Thursday for additional information.
For Patricia, there is no closure, however.
She said police should follow up on people who may be connected to the case, including a former boyfriend of her mom’s and the friend who lived in the house where she was found.
Jacqueline lived in an apartment a block from there.
“I’m not at peace,” she said. “I want police to tell me what happened to my mom.”