CROWN POINT | The death of a Hammond woman missing since 1999 was ruled a homicide Thursday.
Francine Carlson, whose remains were discovered on a vacant Hammond lot in 2011, died from extensive skull fractures resulting from unspecified blunt force trauma, according to the Lake County coroner's office.
Hammond Police Chief Brian Miller said more than 30 people have been interviewed in the case since the discovery of the remains.
The person police believe to have been responsible for the killing is deceased, he said.
Miller declined to name the suspect, who he said was a male friend of Carlson.
"We do not believe he was a love interest, just an acquaintance," Miller said.
The man was about 50 at the time of Carlson's disappearance and 61 at the time of his death, Miller said.
Miller said because police were confident they had identified the killer, the case leaves police "with an empty feeling."
Carlson, of the 1600 block of Sheridan Avenue in Hammond, was 38 at the time she was reported missing. Her remains were found Oct. 5, 2011, on the site of a demolished shop at 1718 Indianapolis Blvd.
The remains were analyzed by forensic anthropologist Stephen Nawrocki and identified through DNA matched to her son, authorities said.