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Skeletal remains of child dubbed ‘Baby Girl’ by investigators have been identified as a missing Indiana girl. But her death is still a mystery

<i>Tennessee Bureau of Investigation</i><br/>The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has identified the skeletal remains of a child found nearly four decades ago.
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has identified the skeletal remains of a child found nearly four decades ago.

By Elizabeth Wolfe and Amanda Musa, CNN

For decades, investigators in Tennessee affectionately referred to an unidentified girl whose remains were found in 1985 as “Baby Girl” while they worked to find her true identity, according to state authorities.

But now, 37 years after her remains were discovered, they are able to call her by her real name — Tracy Sue Walker — after DNA analysis and genetic genealogy helped confirm her identity, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation announced in a release Tuesday.

The investigation continues, however, as authorities must now figure out what happened to Tracy, who went missing from the Lafayette, Indiana, area in 1978, and how her body ended up two states away in Tennessee, the agency said.

“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,” the release said, urging anyone with “information about this case or any knowledge about individuals Tracy may have been with before her death” to contact the bureau.

Tracy’s skeletal remains were found April 3, 1985, in the Big Wheel Gap area of Elk Valley, the release said. Forensic anthropologists determined the remains likely belonged to a white female between the ages of 10 and 15, it said.

Authorities tried several approaches in an effort to find out who she was, including submitting a DNA profile to the Combined DNA Index System and the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, which allow investigators to compare DNA samples to large databases.

“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,” the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said.

It wasn’t until earlier this year that a private lab was able to use genetic genealogy testing to find a possible relative and lead investigators to a family in Lafayette, the agency said. The family confirmed to investigators that one of their relatives went missing in 1978.

Using DNA samples from the family, authorities in Tennessee were able to positively identify the remains as Tracy, who was born June 2, 1963.

The bureau did not say whether investigators know when Tracy died, only that she went missing in 1978 and her remains were found in 1985.

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