TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) — Nearly 41 years after a woman was found dead in the Black Warrior River in Tuscaloosa County, law enforcement are reopening her case in hope of possibly identifying her.
On April 18, 1982, the victim was found in the Fosters community of Tuscaloosa County. At the time, The Tuscaloosa News reported that she was found by three fishermen in he area by the Old Robinson Bend Landing off Dry Creek Road.
According to the Tuscaloosa Violent Crimes Unit, her body was found in good condition, likely between 24 and 48 hours after she died. An autopsy done at the time revealed that she had been strangled to death. The News reported Capt. Shirly Fields of the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Office claiming that the victim had likely been severely beaten and sexually assaulted before her death.
No arrests were ever made in the case. According to the Montgomery Advertiser, law enforcement kept the victim’s jaw to use for possible identification. Until her recent exhumation, the victim had been buried in Tuscaloosa County since December 1982.
“Investigators spent a great deal of time searching missing person reports, and publicizing this case, but were unable to identify the victim,” TVCU Capt. Jack Kennedy said in a statement. “The more recent investigation into her identity has included exhumation. The case has been investigated diligently, and has been revisited throughout the years, but the victim has never been identified.”
Recently, law enforcement working the case teamed up with the Forensic Anthropology and Computer Enhancement Services Lab, or FACES, at Louisiana State University to create new images of the victim, drawing from photographs taken of her at the time, as well as medical records.
“The FACES Lab utilizes forensic imaging to create images of victims that are life-like, and more representative of how a victim would have actually appeared in life,” Kennedy said. “We are releasing these images to the public now in hopes that an acquaintance or family member may recognize the victim, so that she can be identified, and provide new leads into the investigation of her death.”
According to Kennedy, the victim was a white female, 5’3” tall, with black/brown shoulder length hair, brown eyes and type “O” blood. She wore size 7 tennis shoes. The medical examiner reported she had previously been pregnant or had given birth to a child sometime before her death.
Anyone who recognizes the victim or has any information they believe may be relevant in the case is encouraged to call the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Office at 205-752-0616 or the Violent Crimes Unit at 205-464-8690.