Police get best lead in 22 years on missing girl
Published: Sep. 11, 2003 at 2:42 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 12, 2003 at 1:46 PM EDT
ELYRIA, Ohio (AP) - A body exhumed in Louisiana might give police their best chance of finding out what happened to an Ohio girl since she disappeared 22 years ago, a police detective said Thursday.
DNA from the body will be compared to samples from the mother of Lisa Marie Sexton, Elyria police Lt. Andy Eichenlaub said. Dental records also might be used to try to determine whether the body is Sexton, he said.
Sexton left the this city about 30 miles west of Cleveland in 1981 with a known drug dealer, just nine days before her 15th birthday.
Her mother, Barbara Terrell, told authorities that she last heard from her daughter in 1984.
Last Thursday in the St. Tammany Parish, just north of New Orleans, investigators exhumed the body of an auburn-haired murder victim they think resembled Sexton -- about 5 feet 7 inches tall, 120 pounds and with what appeared to be blue eyes.
Eichenlaub said the FBI's National Crime Information Center in Clarksburg, Va., compared information received from Louisiana about the unidentified woman to information about missing females and came up with eight possible matches.
"Lisa Marie Sexton was one of those," he said. "We told them we had DNA (from the girl's mother) available for comparison."
Terrell did not return a telephone message Thursday seeking comment on the possible link. Since her daughter disappeared, Terrell hired a private detective and circulated posters with her daughter's picture.
The young woman in Louisiana was buried in a potter's field in 1986, two weeks after two fishermen found her nude, plastic-covered body in Lake Pontchartrain. Her coffin was cardboard, and the grave was marked with a plain cross.
At the time, police knew only that she was between the ages of 17-20, was pregnant and had breast implants, said Tiffany Tate, spokeswoman for the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office.
A St. Tammany detective reopened the case of the Jane Doe about two months ago, hoping that new technology such as DNA testing could help solve the case, Tate said.
DNA test results will not be known for at least two weeks, Tate said Thursday.
With urging from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, departments around the country have been reopening old missing persons cases in the hopes that DNA technology will help solve the mysteries.
A reconstruction of the deceased woman's face, being done at the Louisiana State University FACES lab. Tate said the reconstruction is probably a month away.
The lab's director, forensic anthropologist Mary Manhein, will use clay to try to show what the woman looked like. The lab works with police departments and the Center for Missing and Exploited Children to do age-progression imaging and facial reconstruction.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)