LINCOLN COUNTY, Ore. — Little is known about the girl.
Oregon authorities have yet to identify the child, whose badly decomposed remains were found Dec. 10 in the woods beyond the rest area in the H.B. Van Duzer Forest State Scenic Corridor, a 12-mile stretch along Route 18 in Lincoln, Tillamook, and Polk counties. The girl’s body was estimated to have been there for at least a month.
“Her body was inside a duffle bag that had been concealed in the forest near the rest area,” Oregon State Police officials said in a statement. “Based on the condition of the remains, little was known about the deceased’s race, appearance or other identifying characteristics.”
According to the Oregonian, the bag was found by a motorist who had stopped at the rest area. It was hidden away about 75 to 100 yards from the parking lot, along the bank of the Salmon River.
It was unclear to detectives if the girl’s body had been dumped at the rest area or if she’d been thrown in the river elsewhere and floated to the spot where she was found.
Below, see drone footage of the area where the girl’s body was found, courtesy of the Oregonian.
“The biggest challenge is trying to identify who this little girl is,” Lt. Cord Wood, who is leading the team investigating the girl’s death, told the newspaper in January.
The girl, estimated to be between 6 and 10 years old, was wearing a pull-up diaper when her body was found, state troopers said. She was fully dressed, but authorities have withheld details about her clothing.
They have also withheld all information regarding her cause and manner of death, the Oregonian reported.
Authorities said the girl had dark brown or black hair measuring about 12 or 13 inches in length. She stood between 3 feet, 10 inches and 4 feet, 6 inches in height, but her weight could not accurately be determined.
Detectives immediately reached out to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children to identify the girl. The nonprofit organization, working with a forensic artist from the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, distributed a black and white drawing of what the girl may have looked like.
They also used a private lab to extract DNA from the girl’s remains.
“Over the past six months, detectives have definitively ruled out more than 60 potential missing kids from information provided by NCMEC and tips from the public,” state police officials said.
After several months with no answers, troopers turned to Parabon Nanolabs, a Virginia-based genetics company that specializes in genetic genealogy. In the past three years, Parabon has helped law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and Canada identify more than 165 suspects or persons of interest in unsolved criminal cases.
Parabon has also helped to identify dozens of unidentified bodies, including Oregon’s coldest John Doe case. Authorities in Jackson County announced last week that DNA and genetic genealogy had helped them identify the remains of a toddler found in 1963 as 2-year-old Steven “Stevie” Crawford.
Stevie’s remains were found by a man who snagged his blanket-wrapped body while fishing in the Keene Creek Reservoir.
Parabon conducted DNA phenotyping, which takes DNA from an unidentified person and predicts details of the person’s ancestry and physical characteristics.
The girl’s DNA indicates she is mostly Caucasian with some Central American ancestry, according to state troopers. The testing predicted that she had hazel eyes and a fair complexion with no freckles.
The phenotyping allowed the NCMEC to colorize the forensic sketch to better match what Jane Doe might have looked like.
Investigators theorize that the girl, who likely died in November, was never reported missing.
“There is a chance that nobody other than whoever put her there knows she was missing, but we are hoping there is somebody that misses this kid,” Wood told the Oregonian.
Anyone with information on the girl’s identity or her death is asked to call Oregon State Police investigators at 800-442-0776 or *OSP (*677). They can also call the NCMEC at 800-THE-LOST (843-5678).
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