Remains of 15-year-old girl found in 1974 finally identified

The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office held a news conference Thursday morning after the remains of 15-year-old girl that were discovered in 1974 were finally identified.

According to authorities, Susan Gale Poole, who was reported missing from Broward County, is believed to have disappeared just before Christmas in 1972.

Her skeletal remains were found in June 1974 in an area known as the Burnt Bridges on A1A.

“She was tied up – appeared to be tied up in the mangroves to a tree,” Detective Bill Springer said. “Nothing left of her except the bones.”

Detectives at the time believed the remains were that of a female between the ages of 15 and 20.

Authorities said DNA was immediately obtained from the remains and entered into the national database for unidentified persons, but they couldn’t find a match. It wasn’t until November 2021 that genealogy tests were performed on the remains by scientists working for Othram Lab, resulting in the victim’s identification.

Detectives believe Poole may have been the victim of serial killer Gerard Schaefer, who was a former sheriff’s deputy in Martin County and a police officer in Wilton Manors. They said she had run away from home once, but it’s unclear whether she had run away before she was killed.

“He lived in Broward County in the area where Susan Poole lived,” Springer said. “He was also a police officer in Wilton Manors. He got arrested for kidnapping two girls, taking them out on A1A and tying them up in mangroves.”

Authorities said Schaefer was known to pick up girls who were hitchhiking and friends told detectives that Poole would hitchhike often.

Poole was born on Feb. 12, 1957, and lived between a trailer park in northern Fort Lauderdale and an apartment in Wilton Manors. Detectives say her mother is still alive and is now in her 90s.

They are hoping the identification of the remains brings the family some closure, but they still want to identify the person behind her killing.

Schaefer was convicted for his crimes and was killed in prison in 1996. While detectives believe he may be responsible for Poole’s death, they do not have any physical evidence linking him to the crime.

Authorities say they are now asking for the public’s help locating any friends of the victims who may have information about a possible suspect. Tipsters may remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at 800-458-TIPS.

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