CAMPBELL COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) — The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) announced that DNA analyses connected the skeletal remains of a girl that were found nearly four decades ago in Campbell County to a teenager reported missing out of Indiana in 1978.
The April 3, 1985, discovery of skeletal remains followed about seven years after family members of Tracy Sue Walker (DOB 6/2/63) say she went missing. The TBI states the remains were found in the Big Wheel Gap area of Elk Valley.
Forensic anthropologists at the time determined that the skeletal remains had belonged to a white girl between the ages of 10-15, but they were not able to confirm her identity, leading to her becoming known as “Baby Girl.”
The University of North Texas Center for Human Identification (UNTCHI) received a sample of the remains in 2007, and researchers developed a DNA profile and entered the information into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) as well as the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System in hopes for answers.
Several more years would pass before a TBI agent and intelligence analyst in 2013 revisited the case by searching for leads. They didn’t receive a break for nearly a decade.
In early 2022 — nine years after the TBI delved into the cold case again — TBI investigators and the University of Tennessee Anthropology Department sent a sample of the remains to the private human DNA analysis laboratory, Othram, where scientists performed forensic genetic genealogy testing.
The break came in June when Othram discovered potential family members near Lafayette, Indiana, whom a TBI agent contacted. Those individuals confirmed they had a family member go missing from the area in 1978.
TBI agents, with assistance from the Lafayette Police Department, obtained familial DNA information to pinpoint possible siblings. Authorities sent the evidence to the TBI Crime Lab in Nashville to be entered into CODIS.
This week, UNTCHI positively identified the remains of “Baby Girl” to have belonged to Walker. The TBI asked for the public’s help in determining the circumstances that led to Walker’s death and how she ended up in Campbell County. Anyone with information about the case or regarding individuals Walker may have been with before her death should call 1-800-TBI-FIND.