ST. LOUIS (AP) - Forensic work on remains found in a St. Louis area cemetery is aimed at trying to identify a little girl murdered two decades ago, and possibly her killer.
Volunteer crews using burial records found the child's remains Monday in the overgrown Washington Park Cemetery, near Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. Finding her grave was difficult because she was not where the records showed, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported (http://bit.ly/12T1ssI).
The child's decapitated body was first found in an abandoned home in St. Louis in 1983, but police presumed she wasn't from the area because no one reported her missing.
Volunteer crews have been searching for her body in hopes that scientists at the St. Louis morgue could then try to extract fresh DNA and consider if specialized testing might shed light on her identity. The testing may determine the area where she grew up by minerals in her bones from the water she drank. That could lead to an identification, which is critical to finding the killer.
The victim had been believed to be 8 to 11 years old. Discovery of the pink-and-white checkered dress in which she was buried removed any doubt Monday that searchers had found her remains in a casket at Washington Park Cemetery in Berkeley.
When the body was found Monday, St. Louis homicide Detective Dan Fox wanted to be sure there was no mistake.
"Cuff plate. It's not even fused," said Stephen McCoy, a medical examiner's death investigator, confirming that the bones were not fully grown. The discovery of the pink-and-white checkered dress in which she was buried removed any doubt.
Scavengers found the decapitated body Feb. 28, 1983, in an abandoned home. The child's arms were bound, and she wore only a yellow sweater, with its tag cut off. The medical examiner concluded she was African-American, weighed about 60 pounds and was about 4-foot-10 without her head, which had been removed after death. The head was never found.
Police presumed the girl was not from St. Louis because no one reported her missing.
"This is going to bring a lot of closure to a lot of people," said Fox. "Just finding her and finally knowing where she's buried, even if nothing else comes of the case, this will be enough for some people."