Grundy County officials seek help to identify teen murdered in 1976

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Morris, Ill. -- Authorities in Grundy County are looking for help to identify a teenager who was murdered there more than 40 years ago. They are using the latest in science and technology to hopefully solve a cold case.

The girl, described as a black female between 18 and 23, with black hair, brown eyes and about 5 feet 7 inches and 150 pounds, was found in the cornfields off Route 6 in Morris, Ill., on Oct. 2, 1976. Police said she was shot in the back of the head. The teen was buried at a cemetery without a name.

John Callahan, the Grundy County Coroner, said it’s more than likely that she was dumped in the cornfields than the crime actually taking place there.

(Grundy County Coroner’s Office)

A farmer found her naked body. Her head was wrapped in a sweater. Forty years later, authorities hope the sweater could hold the key to who she was. Her murder remains the only open cold case in Grundy County.

“Knowing it’s somebody’s sister someone’s daughter it’s always been in the back of my mind,” Callahan said.

The Illinois State Crime Lab was able to put together her full DNA profile, and a volunteer artist used evidence to make this a sketch of what she might have looked like.

“Right now we’re reaching out to jurisdictions within our state and all over the united states,” Callahan said.

Her DNA is now at the University of Texas where researchers are trying to match her to a list of missing people.

“Realistically do I think we’re doing this in anticipation of find the killer? You know that’s a long shot. But I’d like to identify her first and if the other comes a long I guess that’s a bonus,” Callahan said.

Officials think her murder could be connected to a couple of other missing girls cases in Lake County and in Joliet.

“Even in that same time period there were some unidentified females left on the side of the road and such so we are trying to reach out and see if there are any connections,” Callahan said.

Back then, not a lot of black people lived in Morris. Officials think she might have been here from out of town. They say they could exhume her body at some point but they will only do that as a last resort.

Anyone with any information about this case is asked to contact the Grundy County Coroner at 815-942-3792.


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