x
Breaking News
More () »

'A lot left to this mystery': TBI, Indiana authorities try to figure out who left teen victim's body on Campbell County mountain

Authorities announced last month they'd finally identified Tracy Walker, 15. Now they're trying to figure out who left her in Tennessee.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — It took decades to figure out the name of the teenager whose remains were left on a remote Campbell County mountain. With any luck, finding who did this to her will come a lot quicker.

Last month, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation announced that, with the help of a Texas lab, they at last had identified Tracy Sue Walker, 15, as the person whose bones were found in April 1985 up above the Elk Valley community.

Walker disappeared in 1978 from her home town of Lafayette, Ind. The Lafayette newspaper reported last month that she'd last been seen at the local Tippecanoe Mall with a friend.

The TBI now is in active contact with Walker family members and Tippecanoe County sheriff's investigators and Lafayette police, said TBI Special Agent Brandon Elkins, who has been investigating the "Baby Girl" case since years ago when he was with the Campbell County Sheriff's Office.

The girl's remains also have now made the 400-mile trip from Tennessee back to Indiana so she can properly be put to rest. They'd been kept for years as a "Jane Doe" by the University of Tennessee Anthropology Department. 

Elkins said he's cautious about saying too much about what may have happened to the girl because he wants to respect the working relationship Tennessee and Indiana authorities have as they try to solve the case.

"We do believe we understand what happened in 1978 in Indiana that led to Tracy ending up in Elk Valley, Tennessee," he said.

It's clear the person who left her body in Campbell County had unique knowledge about the wooded spot. It's off a rocky, pitted road that served as a haul road up above Elk Valley. Truckers who have had business there certainly would remember it.

It appeared some of her bones including her skull had rolled down a steep hill in the woods. Found along with the remains was a cheap necklace.

"There's a lot left to this mystery," Elkins said.

While many people worked the case over the years, trying whatever testing methods were available at the time, at a certain point they simply had to wait and hope for a break in learning the girl's identity.

Eventually, science caught up with their needs as DNA testing evolved. It's a development investigators are realizing today with numerous unidentified cold cases.

The help of a Texas lab -- Othram in The Woodlands, Texas -- made a huge difference. Very little sampling material was left that could be tested, but Othram recently told the TBI they wanted to help.

Credit: WBIR
TBI Special Agent Brandon Elkins

Through their scientific processes, they were able to create a DNA profile of the girl and then go further by linking that profile to related genetic information of relatives in a special database that police and researchers use.

They had success where other labs ran into dead-ends, Elkins said.

"They'd heard about Tracy's case and they asked to work it," he said.

The investigator thinks someone in Elk Valley may have information that still could prove helpful.

"I am convinced that the truth in this case lies in the community of Elk Valley," he told WBIR. "That, again, is a very beautiful, well-connected community. Everybody knows everybody.

"Secrets tend to stay in the hills, as they say, and we need help. There are people there that I believe hold the key to this. And we have spoken to so many people in Elk Valley and we'll continue to. We just ask that anybody that has information on this case that remembers a young girl in Elk Valley at that time -- if you would provide us with that information it could be the thing that brings ultimate closure and peace to this family."

If you have any information about what happened to Tracy Sue Walker or who she was with before her death, call 1-800-TBI-FIND.

partner with otrahm labs out of ett, have really created a great rocess for this, they wer commiteed to this making these ind, they had hear about tarcys' case and they asked to worke it, didn't charge state to work it, they took what was left of the samples that were submitetd,whehter other labs couldn't get a dna profile, they did that plus gave us genes info that led to her indetif in les than 3 month.s

39:38:10 Secrets tend to stay in the hills as they say and we need help. There are people there that I believe hold the key to this.And we have spoken to so many people in Elk Vally and weill continue to do. Just ask that anybody who has information on this case and remembers a young girl in Elk Valley at that time….peace and closure to this family. 40:07:22

Sounds starts at 31:36:17…..second part of the sitdown..

One of the first things that we were able to do that we’re very excited about to do is to finally bring some peace to tracy’s family. We were finally able to get her remainds released for the family,.

31:51:25: We have been in constant contact with the familyand one of the things that obviously we’re having to go back and do is to determine what happened in 1978.

31:59:26: Who was Tracy then, who was she around? What led to her disappearance?

They’ve been working with local investigators – from the Tippecanoe County, Indiana, Sheriff’s Office and Lafatte Indiana police and the prosecutor’s office as well.

32:23;23: We’ve met several times with them to give them the information we have. Because realistically in a case like this there’s multiple juridictions involved.

**32:35:12 There’s a lot left to this mystery.

33:18:21 We do believe we understand what happened in 1978 in Indiana and that ended up leading to Tracey being in Elk Valley, Tennessee.

39:19;27: I am convinced that the trut in this case lies in the comjunity of Elk Valley. That again is a very beautiful well connected community. Everybody knows everybody.

39:38:10 Secrets tend to stay in the hills as they say and we need help. There are people there that I believe hold the key to this.And we have spoken to so many people in Elk Vally and weill continue to do. Just ask that anybody who has information on this case and remembers a young girl in Elk Valley at that time….peace and closure to this family. 40:07:22

Paid Advertisement

Before You Leave, Check This Out