But no matter how frustrating the investigation becomes, one strategy for detectives, voiced best by Winston Churchill, is essential:
Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever give up!
Three decades of persistence helped investigators with the Hall's County Sheriff's Office (GA) close a missing person/unidentified body case last year:
Her family gave Juanita Adams the Lakota name “Omani Wi” – woman on the longest walk.A missing person who has a prosthetic can certainly can aid law enforcement in locating the man or woman in question.
Adams’ journey, which started more than 30 years ago, was to end today when her remains are laid to rest beside her mother and other family members on Red Shirt Table.
Adams’ burial will conclude a 30-year quest to identify skeletal remains found along Interstate 985 in Hall County, Ga., on May 22, 1980.
It also ended a family’s search for a missing mother, daughter, sister and cousin.
Adams disappeared in 1978, according to her cousin Roxanne Two Bulls. She left a 3-year-old son behind.
Adams participated in the American Indian Movement’s “Longest Walk” to Washington, D.C., in 1978. She returned home for a few days then left with friends she had met on the walk, Two Bulls said.
“No one ever heard anything from her again,” Two Bulls said.
After the skeletal remains were discovered, the Hall County Sheriff’s Office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation attempted to identify them.
Forensic examinations by law enforcement agencies and the Smithsonian Institution concluded that the victim was between 17 and 24 years old and of African American or Native American mixed with Caucasian descent.
The victim was likely 19-20 at the time of her death, according to a Hall County news release.
Adams was 20 in 1980, according to her obituary...
One telling feature of the woman’s remains was a prosthetic right eye and indications of old injuries to the right side of her face.
Two Bulls said Adams was injured in a car accident. Surgery to install the prosthetic eye was done at Ellsworth Air Force Base.
According to Two Bulls, Lt. Gerald Couch of the Hall County Sheriff’s office was assigned to the case. He spent years trying to trace the origin of the eye and following leads.
Several skeletal reconstruction composites were created and published.
It wasn’t until Couch asked a forensic artist to enhance scars on the victim’s face that a family member recognized Adams on the GBI website last May...
The family waited 10-months for the University of Texas to perform DNA testing that confirmed Adams’ identity.
According to Hall County authorities, a cause of death could not be determined...
Unfortunately, so many of these unsolved cases contain very little about people that would be considered "unique identifiers."
As such, the Churchill quote on never giving-up is a painful daily reality for family members and investigators searching for those missing.
You can read more of my Missing Person Monday posts by clicking here.