Mystery corpse buried in backyard identified

A young girl found buried in a casket in San Francisco’s Lone Mountain neighborhood a year ago has been identified, a team of researchers announced Tuesday.

The girl, who was nicknamed “Miranda Eve” by the researchers, has been identified as Edith Howard Cook, who died on Oct. 13, 1876 at the age of two.

Edith, the second child of Horatio Nelson and Edith Scooffy Cook, is listed as having died of “marasmus,” a term used to describe severe undernourishment and wasting. Researchers today said the wasting could have been caused by a number of things but was most likely linked to an infectious disease.

The young girl in a tightly sealed metal casket was unearthed last May in the backyard of the home of John and Ericka Karner by a contractor doing remodeling work.

Edith was reburied at Greenlawn Memorial Park in Colma last June, but a team of researchers set about identifying her.

The area where the Karners’ home was built was known to have been part of the Odd Fellows Cemetery, which accepted burials from 1865 until around 1902.

Most of the bodies in the cemetery were exhumed and transferred to Greenlawn in the early 1930s, but Edith was left behind for unknown reasons.

Researchers were able to tentatively identify her through a search of cemetery records and then confirmed the identification through a DNA match with a living relative, Peter Cook.

Peter Cook, a Bay Area resident, is Edith’s grand-nephew and the direct descendant of her older brother, Milton H. Cook.