Elementary school teacher JoAnn Nichols, 55, was reported missing in 1985 by her husband, James L. Nichols Jr., and never found. Police theorized she had run away or committed suicide because her son had drowned three years earlier, the Poughkeepsie Journal reported Tuesday.
Dr. Kari Reiber, the Dutchess County medical examiner, said an autopsy Monday revealed the woman's body was placed "intact" in a container before it was sealed in a basement wall, and identified by extensive dental work.
Police said she apparently died from blunt trauma to her head.
The body was discovered Friday by a contractor cleaning up after the missing woman's husband, described by neighbors as an unemotional hoarder, died in December of natural causes at age 82, the newspaper said.
James Nichols' body was not claimed after his death. County administrators oversaw his estate, and the typical request by contractors to be paid upfront delayed the cleaning of the home and discovery of his wife's body, attorney Kelly Traver said.