Bones Believed to be Remains of Three Girls Last Seen in 1976
RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. (AP) _ Authorities who have been finding bones in a wooded area for the past two weeks say they believe the skeletal remains belong to three young girls who disappeared 10 years ago.
The Pope County Sheriff’s Department on Friday released the names, photographs and descriptions of the three girls, missing from Russellville since Dec. 3, 1976.
Sheriff James Bolin emphasized that the remains have not been identified.
″We have not verified that the bones we found are those of the missing girls, but we are looking in that direction,″ he said. ″We want to run these pictures in the hopes that, if the girls are still alive, and someone knows their whereabouts, they will contact us.″
Bolin said authorities think the bones are the remains of Theresa Williams, 14 at the time of her disappearance, Crystal Donita Parton and Cynthia Renee Mabry, both then 13.
State Medical Examiner Fahmy Malak released a report Friday saying the remains belonged to three females age 12 to 14, Bolin said. Authorities are in the process of obtaining the girls’ dental records to compare with teeth found in the woods.
Bones were first discovered by a couple deer hunting on Thanksgiving Day in a remote area near the Pope-Newton County line. Officials found three leg bones and an arm bone searching the area Dec. 2.
Two days later searchers found a matted mass of bones, clothing and roots. On Thursday they found most of a human skeleton clad in a rotting coat and underwear.
The bones have been scattered over a 200- to 300-foot area.
Authorities speculated that the bodies may have been placed in a shallow grave in a low-lying area near a flood-prone creek. A 1982 flood or animals may have scattered the bones, Bolin said.
Searchers also found an old No. 10 shotgun shell casing with nine buckshot but have no evidence that the shell is linked to the remains.
″We don’t think right now that the shotgun shell and pellets had anything to do with the deaths, but we won’t be certain for some time,″ the sheriff said.
The mother of one of the girls is cooperating with officers, said Bolin.
″It’s been 10 years. I want to know one way or another. I want to know,″ the woman, who authorities declined to identify, told investigators Friday.
The parents of the other two girls have moved out of state, but they will be asked to help in the investigation, Bolin said.