http://www.thetimesnews.com/news/years-36848-bodies-cases.htmlLocal cases remain unsolved 12 and 20 years after bodies found
September 11, 2010 4:55 PM
Robert Boyer / Times-News
On Sept. 19, 1990, a clean-up crew found a decomposing body at the bottom of an Interstate 40 embankment east of the New Hope Church Road in Orange County.
The teen or young woman was nude from the waist down had been dead four to six days. In life, she was 5 feet 3 inches tall, had strawberry blond hair, and weighed 105 to 115 pounds.
The torso was clad in a pink shirt depicting three bunnies on the front. A thin, copper-looking metal ring was on the ring finger of the left hand and a twisted metal bracelet was on the left wrist.
She had a 3-inch scar from an appendix operation.
On her feet were white anklet socks; the bottoms were clean, as if she hadn’t walked on them.
According to at least one report, someone might have last spotted her alive near a truck stop behind the Waffle House off N.C. 62 (Alamance Road) and Interstate 40/85 in Burlington.
FAST-FORWARD EIGHT YEARS to Sept. 25, 1998. A man mowing near a billboard in a field off Industrial Drive and Mattress Factory Road just east of Mebane in Orange County finds the skeletal remains of a 10- to 12-year-old boy.
In life, the boy had fine, dark-brown hair and was 4 feet 7 inches to 4 feet 11 inches tall and weighed 50 to 80 pounds.
The body was shirtless, with “Fox Polo”-brand khaki pants tagged with an international size of 150. A check of the pockets revealed $50 — two twenties and a ten. Tube socks and a pair of “2XS Sports” black-and-white athletic shoes adorned the feet. The shoes had slight wear.
The body might have been there the entire summer, Orange County sheriff’s investigators say.
The boy was possibly Hispanic and could have come to the area with migrant agricultural workers.For a time, it appeared the body might be Jesus Delacruz, a 6-year-old boy that went missing from Lynn, Mass., on Sept. 28, 1996, but dental records failed to match.
Authorities also ruled out a 12- to 14-year-old missing child from Florida, Maj. Don Truelove of the Orange County Sheriff's Office said in Oct. 1998. Truelove didn’t know the child's name.
Like the 15-to-25-year-old woman, someone had once provided good dental care for the boy. He had sealant on his teeth and no cavities. She had three cavities, but fillings in other teeth.
Neither body showed signs of trauma.
Two September discoveries, eight years apart. One Jane Doe, one John Doe.
The first mystery is a week away from its 20th anniversary; the second is approaching its 12th anniversary.
Until investigators are able to find a DNA match, or someone steps forward with information, anonymity will continue to cloak the two.
DAPHNE OWINGS, a 47-year-old who works with computer information systems, is trying to change that.
Owings is the North Carolina and Hawaii director for the Doe Network, an organization of roughly 500 volunteers “devoted to assisting law enforcement in solving cold cases concerning unexplained disappearances and unidentified victims from North America, Australia and Europe,” according to its website.
In 1999, Jennifer Marra created a website devoted to the cause. A year later, Helene Wahlstrom joined the effort and eventually became its leader. In 2001, Wahlstrom founded the Doe Network. “It is our mission to give the nameless back their name and return the missing to their families,” according to the organization’s mission statement.
So far, Owings, a Triangle resident, said information posted on the Doe website has led to the solving or assisted solving of 53 Jane and John Doe cases. “It sounds small compared to the numbers we’re talking about, but it means the world to a family that’s been looking, in some cases 20 or 30 years … It just takes the right person seeing the information one time … to make a difference in the whole case. The whole case can turn on that.”
A real-life Jane Doe case the novelist Sue Grafton fictionalized in her 2002 book “Q is for Quarry” spurred Owings’ passion for solving missing persons’ cases.
Owings joined the Doe Network in 2003. The work appeals to her meticulous nature. “I used to watch ‘Columbo’ (a 1970’s television show about a Los Angeles police detective who solved murders) with my Dad. I’m the person who searched for that penny in my accounting class when the balance sheet didn’t add up.”
Helping families learn the fate of their loved ones, and seeking justice for those who died, motivates her, Owings said
“If you don’t know who your victim is, it’s kind of hard to get some justice for them. Because, so often, homicides are committed by somebody who either knew the person or had some sort of affiliation with them,” she said. “These people, they deserve the dignity and respect of their name.”
Anyone with information on the Orange County cases should call the Orange County Sheriff’s Office at 919-644-3050 and speak with Greg Strowd or Tim Horne.
So many missing
There are roughly 150,000 open missing persons cases and 40,000 unidentified remains in the U.S., said Daphne Owings of the Doe Network, a volunteer organization dedicated to uncovering the identities of Jane and John Does. About 5,000 of these cases are children.
In North Carolina, 2,000 missing person cases remain unsolved over the past 10 years.
Want to know more?
Log on to:
The Doe Network: http://www.doenetwork.org/
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children: http://www.missingkids.com
A look at unsolved missing person cases in Alamance County
* John Prange Masse. Then 26 years old, Masse, a cost analyst at Burlington Industries, was last seen leaving a party in Greensboro on March 16, 1984. He never arrived at his home, 333 Rosemont St., in Gibsonville, and nobody ever found him or his 1979 Toyota hatchback. He was reported missing to the Alamance County Sheriff's Department March 24, 1984, by people he worked with. He was declared legally dead years ago at his family’s request.
Several years ago, investigators received information that Masse’s body might have be in some woods off University Drive near Burlington. A search and an all-night dig failed to turn up any remains, Alamance County Sheriff’s spokesman Randy Jones said Friday.
* Clifton Farrington. Farrington, who lived with his mother on Freshwater Road outside of Swepsonville, was last seen Sept. 15, 1985, when he turned in some license plates that he'd discovered to the Alamance County Sheriff's Department. He didn't have a car, traveled mostly by foot and was reportedly mentally disabled. His relatives reported him missing seven days later. He was 26.
* Cynthia Kelly. Kelly, 42, was last seen on May 13, 1999, at her home at 1757-B Snipes Road, Saxapahaw. She did not take any belongings with her. Several tips were received but none panned out.
* Jana Michelle Morton. Morton was last seen leaving her home on Beale Road in Snow Camp en route to Caswell County on Feb. 13, 2009. She did not arrive at her destination. The 1997 Dodge Intrepid she was driving was found weeks later in the parking lot of Food Lion on South Main Street in Graham. She is described as white, 5 feet 3 inches tall and weighing about 110 pounds. She has brown hair and hazel eyes. She was last seen wearing a tie-dyed shirt and blue jeans.
If you have information about any of these cases, call the Alamance County Sheriff's Department at 336-570-6300.