THE MOUNTAINVIEW WEEKLY
It's amazing what the Internet can do for you, or in the case
story, for others.
The family of Angela Parks, an unidentified woman from Bowling
Kentucky, who had not been seen by her family since 1992, now
has closure on her disappearance thanks to the many people who
have volunteered their time and efforts.
A variety of volunteers such as police officers, housewives,
examiners, and newspaper reporters can be found at www.doenetwork.org or at Coldcases, a Yahoo
Newsgroup. The Doe Network is a volunteer-operated organization
that says they have been fortunate enough to work with extremely
talented, dedicated and wonderful people involved in the cold
cases community, as well as in law enforcement.
The Doe Network website contains an extensive list of approximately
missing and unidentified individuals from across North America,
Australia, and Europe. It was through this website and cross-referencing
with missing or unidentified people cold case files from across
the US, that they were able to identify Ms. Parks.
Bobby Lingoes, who works for the Quincy, Massachusetts Police
and Helene Wahlstrom, a student of Sweden who has studied literature,
philosophy and anthropology, and who is also the webmaster for
the website, were instrumental in the discovery of who Angela
Parks was. Wahlstrom handpicked the Jane Doe
that was buried in Waco, Texas after being hit by a train in
July 1993, and Lingoes submitted the information to the National
Crime Information Center (NCIC) of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
(FBI). The match was made using a tattoo comparison. In Canada
this similar type of computerized database is called Violent
Crime Linkage Analysis System (VICLAS).
Todd Matthews, a quality auditor in Livingston, Kentucky,
and who is Co-moderator of the Doe Network and Cold cases sites,
has, after more than 10 years of searching, discovered the identity
of the infamous "Tent Girl" mystery, a woman who had
been dead for 30 years.
Wilbur Riddle, who later became Matthews's father-in-law,
had found the
woman's nude body, wrapped in a canvas tent tube, while he was
searching for glass electrical insulators along a highway near
Georgetown, Ky., in 1968. Authorities investigating her murder
were never able to determine her identity. She was to become
known only as 'Tent Girl' because of the canvas the murderer
had wrapped her in.
Matthews became fascinated by the story of the "Tent
Girl" when he heard
about it in 1987, and began collecting information about the
unsolved case. "I have a brother and a sister who have both
died, and the first thing that crossed by mind when I found out
about the Tent Girl, was that she's somebody's sister too, and
her family probably haven't any idea whether she's even dead
or alive" Matthews has said.
In 1997 Matthews began using Internet technology to cross-reference
"Tent Girl's" physical characteristics with missing
persons' descriptions, and it was at that time that his search
began to get results.
Matthews had found enough information on the Internet to lead
believe that the "Tent Girl's" real name was actually
Barbara Ann Hackman Taylor. A forensic test that matched the
"Tent Girl's" DNA with the DNA of Taylor's sister confirmed
But that experience is only the beginning of Matthews's efforts
to try to
help locate missing and unidentified people. Matthews helped
to advocate a federal law that would make it mandatory for state
governments to report descriptions of all unidentified people,
both living and dead, to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's
National Crime Information Center.
The law, which was passed in June 1999, was called Jennifer's
honour of Jennifer, the daughter of Susan Wilmer, who has been
missing from California since 1993. During her search for her
daughter, Wilmer had spoken to someone who suggested that it
might be a possibility that her daughter had been found deceased,
and buried as an unidentified person, much like the "Tent
Girl" had been. This prompted Ms. Wilmer to suggest the
proposed law. Although the NCIC keeps computerized lists of both
missing and unidentified people, it is not mandatory for state
and local law enforcement agencies to report their findings to
the centre. "While the missing persons file is widely utilized
by local law enforcement agencies, very few of these same agencies
utilize the unidentified person file", reports Wilmer.
"There is a large discrepancy in the number of missing
persons and the
number of unidentified persons described on the NCIC lists. That's
because the NCIC computer automatically cross-references its
descriptions of missing persons with its descriptions of unidentified
persons once every day in order to locate possible matches ",
Matthews says. "It's estimated, however, that now that Jennifer's
Law has passed, it becomes mandatory for state-level law enforcement
agencies to report the unidentified people they find, and then
thousands of people can be located and identified just with the
data currently available to be registered", Matthews concluded.
The family of Angela Parks wants to be able to exhume her
remains, and have
it taken back to rest beside her mother in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
Matthews says that exhuming a body is an expensive undertaking,
and he also says he has to brush
up on the laws of Texas regarding exhuming the body. Her two
son Andrew 14, and a daughter Laura 8, who have lived with their
great-aunt Joyce Thomason since Ms. Parks' disappearance, survive
The people at the Doe Network are working really hard to identify
unidentified, and locate the missing, so that more families will
have closure in their lives. This is one area of the Internet
that you are sure to hear about often.
Their diligence is out-standing. Good work to all on the Doe
Network and Coldcases!