Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Teams with Othram to Identify Elk Valley Jane Doe

A child whose skeletal remains were found nearly four decades ago in Campbell County has been identified as 15-year-old Tracy Sue Walker.

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Published August 30, 2022 by Michael Vogen
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In April 1985, skeletal remains were found in the Big Wheel Gap area of Elk Valley in Campbell County. Forensic anthropologists determined that the skeletal remains were those of a white female, likely between the age of 10 and 15. However, investigators could not determine her identity, and she became affectionately known as "Baby Girl". In 2007, a sample of her remains was submitted to the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification (UNTCHI) in hopes of identifying the victim. A DNA profile was developed for the victim and entered into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) as well as the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System in hopes that she would eventually be identified. She was logged in NamUs as UP1577.

In 2013, a TBI agent and intelligence analyst revisited the case and began searching for new leads regarding the girl’s identity. It would be nine more years before they received a break in the case. In 2022, working with the University of Tennessee Anthropology Department, a sample of the child’s remains was sent to Othram. The skeletal remains had failed attempts at testing with other laboratories due to age and degradation of the remains. Othram scientists used advanced genome filtering and other techniques to develop a suitable DNA extract and then used Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing® to produce a genealogical profile for the unknown child. The casework was funded by Carla Davis and Carla additionally led the genealogical research effort to produce investigative leads.

In June, Othram provided a possible relative connected to the child who was living in Indiana. Using that information, a TBI intelligence analyst located potential family members in the Lafayette, Indiana area. A TBI agent made contact with those individuals and confirmed they had a family member go missing from that area in 1978. With the assistance of the Lafayette, Indiana Police Department, agents were able to obtain familial DNA standards for possible siblings of the girl, which were submitted to the TBI Crime Lab in Nashville for entry into CODIS.

In August 2022, UNTCHI confirmed that "Baby Girl" was Tracy Sue Walker, born June 2, 1963. Tracy went missing from the Lafayette, Indiana, area in 1978. 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. If you have information about this case or any knowledge about individuals Tracy may have been with before her death, please call 1-800-TBI-FIND.

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Michael Vogen

Michael Vogen

Director of Case Management

2829 Technology Forest Blvd Suite 100, The Woodlands, Texas 77381

Michael works with law enforcement agencies throughout the United States and Canada on “unsolvable“ cases that can benefit from advanced DNA testing methods. He helps these agencies use cutting edge DNA sequencing and new forensic techniques to develop investigative leads for their cases.

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About Othram Inc.

Othram is the world’s first private DNA laboratory built specifically to apply the power of modern parallel sequencing to forensic evidence. Othram’s scientists are experts at ... Read morerecovery, enrichment, and analysis of human DNA from trace quantities of degraded or contaminated materials. Founded in 2018, and located in The Woodlands, Texas, our team works with academic researchers, forensic scientists, medical examiners, and law enforcement agencies to achieve results when other approaches have failed. Follow Othram on Twitter @OthramTech or visit Othram.com to learn how we can help you with your case. With dnasolves.com anyone can make a difference and help solve the next cold case.