Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Cold Case Update: Unidentified Murder Victim Found in Barren County Ky. Was Scalped

Map of Kentucky with Baron County locator.

Map of Kentucky with Baron County locator. Click map for enlarged view.

Kentucky State Police are still investigating the disturbing unsolved murder of an unidentified woman, likely of Native American descent, who was found scalped and shot to death in a wooded area in rural Barren County, about 95 miles south of Louisville. Her skull was found in a drainage ditch off the Cumberland Parkway near Glasgow on August 15, 2011, by students searching for a native plant. Her bones were later found by investigators near Interstate 65, scattered over a 100 to 120-foot area.

With the help of forensic anthropologists, investigators were able to determine that she was a modern-era woman and an archaeological find. The most important indicator was her extensive modern dental work, root canals and alloy fillings. Police were also able to develop the following description of the victim: she was tall, between 5’9″ and 6’1″; she was between 20 and 50 years old; she was left there between 1999 and 2010; she is of Native American descent, though she might not have identified as Native American, since Kentucky has no recognized tribes; she could very well have been from out of state; and she might have been wearing a floral bikini bottom. The team agrees that the marks on her skull definitively show that the victim was scalped. The caliber of the murder weapon is not yet known, though investigators have determined that was not a shotgun.

Police are also still trying to determine how she got there. They believe she was dumped, but was she the victim of a hate crime, or possibly of Mexican drug cartels, known for beheading and scalping their enemies during turf wars. No such hate crime or drug violence has been reported in Kentucky, and right now investigation is at a standstill.

Unfortunately investigators have run out of leads and are appealing to the public for more information as they await the results of a DNA test. Anyone with information about this crime is urged to call Kentucky State Police at 270-782-2010.

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