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Cold Case Spotlight

26 Years Later, Remains Identified as Missing Mother Cynthia Louise Day

After 26 years, Melody and Kimberly Day can finally bring their missing mother home.

Cynthia and her daughter, Melody. Day Family

Authorities in Missouri announced yesterday that remains discovered at the end of August 1990, have been positively identified to be those of Cynthia Louise Day, who vanished that same month from National City, Illinois.

In the end, it was a single fingerprint that made the match, authorities said.

"Emotions are all over the place," Melody Day, one of Cynthia's daughter, told Dateline Tuesday night. "The thought of what actually happened is the saddest."

The announcement was a small comfort for Cynthia's two daughters, but it was no surprise. The sisters have long believed the decomposed remains long kept in a box labeled 'Jane Doe' were their mother's remains.

"The woman's reproductive organs were missing, my mother had a full hysterectomy. There were breaks in the pelvis, my mother broke her pelvis giving birth to me, and again slipping on ice years later," Melody, one of Cynthia's daughters, told Dateline earlier this year.

Related: Cynthia Louise Day's Daughters Convinced Her Remains Have Been Found

At the time of her disappearance, Cynthia was living with her longtime boyfriend in National City, Illinois. Melody and her younger sister Kimberly visited their mother on August 10, 1990. With them, they brought Kimberly's newborn son, Cynthia's first grandson.

"She was just so excited about meeting him," Melody told Dateline earlier this year. "We brought that little baby over and she showed him off to everyone, all the neighbors."

The women also discussed something that was weighing heavily on Cynthia's mind. Her seven-year relationship with her boyfriend had reportedly gone sour. She confided in her daughters that she was planning to leave him. Cynthia had been having some troubles with drug and alcohol abuse, and the girls thought the relationship inflamed that.

Several days later, when her daughters went to check on her, Cynthia was gone. There was no sign of her or her boyfriend. Their belongings were also missing.

Melody says she saw the boyfriend weeks later, and he told her he had no idea where Cynthia was. Then, just like Cynthia, he vanished.

Fourteen years after her mother vanished, Melody told Dateline she discovered that an official report regarding her mother's disappearance had never been filed. Once there was an official one on record, she decided to conduct her own investigation of sorts. She started a website, sharing stories, photos and information about Cynthia.

It was on that website that an anonymous tip was left regarding a box of bones found in Pike County years earlier. Melody says she has been pushing ever since for further testing on the remains, as she was sure they belonged to her mother.

Her answer finally came this week.

A Missouri State Highway Patrol Division of Drug and Crime Control investigator received a phone call last month from a woman asking the department to look into the case, as she believed the remains were those of an acquaintance's mother, according to a press release.

Despite the highly-decomposed condition of the remains, investigators realized they had a single fingerprint they might be able to match. The print was a match to one taken from Cynthia for a misdemeanor arrest.

The Day sisters say authorities previously told them DNA testing wasn't possible, as the bones had been boiled by lab technicians years ago, something that was reportedly common practice in the time before DNA testing was widely available. It's unclear why investigators weren't aware they had a fingerprint to match to Cynthia until now.

While the journey has been long, Cynthia's daughters are happy the mystery of their mother's remain has been solved. They are currently waiting for their mother's remains to be released to them so they can put her to rest. They are raising funds to help with the process.

"We thanked God so much, because we finally get to bring her home," Melody wrote on Facebook Tuesday afternoon.

Cynthia's death was ruled a homicide and is still an open investigation. If you have any information regarding the case, you are urged to call the Pike County Sheriff's Office at (573) 324-2020.