Skeletal remains found 37 years ago identified as missing Indiana girl


Authorities have positively identified skeletal remains found nearly four decades ago in Tennessee as belonging to a missing Indiana teenager. Now, they are trying to figure out how the girl ended up hundreds of miles from home.

On April 3, 1985, authorities discovered the remains of a White female, likely aged between 10 and 15, in Campbell County, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said in a news release. When authorities could not identify her, they began to affectionately refer to her as “Baby Girl.”

Earlier this week, the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification (UNTCHI) was able to positively identify the remains as belonging to Tracy Sue Walker, who went missing from Lafayette, Indiana, in 1978.

Tracy Sue Walker, of Lafayette, Indiana, disappeared in 1978. Authorities positively identified human remains discovered more than three decades ago in Tennessee as belonging to the child. / Credit: Tennessee Bureau of Investigation

“Now, TBI Special Agents hope the public can help provide information that may help determine the circumstances leading to Tracy Sue Walker’s death and how she ended up in Campbell County,” investigators said.

Authorities used forensic genetic genealogy testing, which in recent years has helped solve multiple cold cases, to identify the remains.

In 2007, more than 20 years after the remains were discovered, authorities submitted a sample to the UNTCHI and a DNA profile was developed and entered into the Combined DNA Index System and the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, investigators said.

The case was revisited in 2013, and again earlier this year, when the remains were sent to Othram, a private laboratory for forensic genetic genealogy testing. In June, the lab located a possible relative of the child who was living in Indiana, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said.

Investigators contacted the family members, who confirmed they had a family member go missing in 1978. The relatives, who were possibly the girls’ siblings, gave DNA samples, which led the UNTCHI to make the positive identification this week.

Authorities ask anyone with information about Walker’s death, or anyone who may know who she was with prior to her death, to contact 1-800-TBI-FIND.

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