Nearly four decades after a young girl’s remains were found, authorities say they have identified her. Investigators only knew her through all these years as “Baby Girl,” but the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation announced Tuesday that her real name is Tracy Sue Walker.
Walker, born June 2, 1963, went missing from the area of Lafayette, Indiana, back in 1978, authorities said. What authorities don’t know is how she ended up in Campbell County, Tennessee, where her skeletal remains were found in the Big Wheel Gap area of Elk Valley on April 3, 1985. Law&Crime reached out to authorities for more information on the exact date of Walker’s disappearance.
Investigators did not suggest a cause or manner of death, only asking for any information on what led up to her passing.
“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,” the TBI said.
After her discovery, forensic anthropologists determined these remains belonged to a white girl likely between the ages of 10 and 15, authorities said. Absent her real name, she got another one.
“However, investigators could not determine her identity, and she became affectionately known as ‘Baby Girl,'” authorities said.
The announcement on Tuesday is the culmination of years of DNA analysis. The University of North Texas Center for Human Identification received a sample of her remains in 2007, the TBI said. Her DNA profile was developed and entered into the Combined DNA Index System and the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System.
“In 2013, a TBI agent and intelligence analyst revisited the case and began searching for new leads regarding the girl’s identity,” authorities said. “It would be nine more years before they received a break in the case.”
That break arrived earlier in 2022, with the private laboratory Othram getting a sample of “Baby Girl’s” remains. They ran forensic genetic genealogy testing. From there, investigators were able to track down possible family members in the area of Lafayette, Indiana. An agent contacted the relatives and confirmed a family member went missing there 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,” authorities said.
The question now is filling in the blanks on what happened to Walker.
The Tippecanoe County Sheriff’s Department, which is the Indiana agency investigating the missing persons case, did not immediately respond to a Law&Crime request for more information.
[Image via Tennessee Bureau of Investigation]
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