VACAVILLE (CBS13) — After decades of searching for her biological mother, Caitlyn Shaneli Bilardi got unexpected news: Vacaville detectives had identified their only “Jane Doe,” as Cynthia “Merkley” Bilardi.

Left: Cynthia Merkley, Right: Caitlyn Shaneli Bilardi

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“It’s almost surreal that even 28 years later they are still putting effort into finding whose body that was,” said Caitlyn Shaneil Bilardi. “I’ve longed for finding out who she was.”

Caitlyn was adopted shortly after her mother was arrested for theft, just two weeks before her first birthday.

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“Unfortunately there is a dark past, a lot of substance abuse,” Caitlyn said.

It wasn’t until Caitlyn became an adult and had her own personal struggle with addition when she began desperately searching for her mother.

“When I found out there was no missing report of her that really hurt,” she said.

She filed a report, signed up for, and in the process found out she was one of seven children.

“Even battling addiction, she still so badly wanted to be a mom,” Caitlyn said.

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That desire to be a mother inspire Caitlyn and is why she refused to give up hope.

“I just wanted to find her and say thank you, thank you for giving me life,” she said.

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The question she so desperately wanted was answered by Vacaville Detectives nearly three decades later. With advanced fingerprinting technology, investigators identified 38-year-old Cynthia “Merkley” Bilardi, whose body was located in 1991.

While detectives did not suspect initial foul play, Caitlyn has so many more questions as to what happened.

“I asked was she wearing clothes? Did she have drugs on her? Were there tire marks next to her? The things that I felt that I could try to piece together,” she told detectives.

While she may never know, Caitlyn is forever grateful for those who refused to forget her mother.

“There are just no words to explain how grateful I am for that,” she said. “I believe in my heart now she’s in a better place and she’s not suffering.”

While her other siblings were raised by immediate family, Caitlyn and her younger sister were both adopted.

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She’s still searching for Ashley Eve or Grace Eve who would now be 30 years old. She also doesn’t know who her father is, the only indication is that his last name is Erwingill or Ervingill.