COLD CASE: Investigators try to identify girl found in Campbell County 20 years ago

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Investigators are working to identify a young girl whose remains were found dumped among a bunch of garbage.

 

"The dumpsite was in this area," said Caryville Police Chief Bill Widener.

As a seasoned investigator, Chief Widener has seen his fair share of crimes but what happened to a young girl found in the weeds near Jellico still sticks with him.

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Chief Widener added, "That sight was used daily, then you find these bones that had been out in the elements for a long time. It's hard to imagine nobody ever seen that or smelled the body as it was decomposing."

In April of 1985, a person picking greens on the side of a road found a skull.

Investigators called in Dr. Bill Bass with UT's Anthropology Department and several of his students who came across more bones.

"As she decayed her remains just scattered down the hill," said Dr. Bill Bass.

 

He added "They'd been there long enough you could not only see a little tree grow through the vertebrae but the roots grew into the skull. This is not someone whose been there for 2 months or 6 months but 1, 2, 3, years or so."

Since the skull was in relatively good condition a reconstructionist built features from it.

 

Our interview was the first time Chief Widener had ever seen what the young girl may have once looked like.

Chief Widener added, "It's emotional for me to see that, but knowing we can put a face to it and maybe now we can put that face out there and say that looks like my daughter or my granddaughter."

Investigators hope technology will also help lead to a break in this case.

Crews found several teeth that show the victim had dental work done.

They were also able to extract DNA from her bones. It's since been added to a national DNA database called Codeis.

TBI Spokesperson Kristin Helm said, "Over the last 10 years law enforcement has had so many more resources available to them to help them solve these cold cases. At one time they were kinda tossed aside. They accepted the fact they were unsolved and were always going to be unsolved, but that's not the case anymore."

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Investigators believe their victim was white and probably 11 to 13 years old.

She was also thought to be from the Ohio area.

Investigators think because of the remote location where she was dumped her killer was likely local.

"This is someone who knows the terrain. They know where they can put a body and not have it be found for a while," said Dr. Bass.

Someone, somewhere knows who she is.

"There's a lot of people who this little girl touched their lives in some way shape or form. We'll keep our fingers crossed that with a little bit of hard work and elbow grease combined with a lead from the public and some DNA evidence, we can figure out who this girl is and what happened to her," added Helm.

If you have any information on this case you are asked to call

1-800-TBI-FIND.

If you have a cold case you'd like us to look into email us at coldcase@wbir.com

With photojournalist Jacob Nagel/>