Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Lexis and Suellen Roberts: Killed by a Dead Man?

Identification

  

A week later and still unable to make an identification due to so few leads, Manhein paid a visit to a dentist and an orthodontist in New Orleans in her hunt for information, and took the victim's postmortem dental photos and x-rays with her to see if they could help narrow the age gap. The effort paid off, and Manhein returned to Baton Rouge with expert opinions indicating that the victim was likely no older than 13.

Another week went by, and Manhein still not have any good prospects for identifying the girl. Similarly, local police were at a loss and had little hope of solving the case. Frustrated, Manhein called a staff meeting on Monday, October 25, 2010.

"We are identifying this girl today," she confidently told her staff.

Lexis Roberts
Lexis Roberts
For the next several hours, Manhein and her workforce scoured the Internet, focusing their efforts on cases involving missing girls around the age of 13. Before the day was over, she learned about the disappearance of Lexis Roberts and her mother and contacted one of the Arizona detectives working on the case from there. The detective sent Lexis's dental records to Manhein electronically, and a few hours later they matched those records with their Jane Doe homicide victim. There was no longer any doubt: it was Lexis.

"To go from 'no clue' by that afternoon to getting a positive ID that night was incredibly rare," Manhein told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "We don't normally play detective, but again, there was just something about this case that struck us."

Although Louisiana authorities had known that their Jane Doe was a homicide victim, the diligent efforts of Manhein and her FACES forensic anthropologists turned what began as a Nevada missing person's case into a homicide investigation. The cops were now looking for Sanders as a possible killer and kidnapper, and authorities stepped up their efforts to find Suellen, hoping that she was still alive.

When news that the body found in Louisiana had been identified as Lexis and reached Arizona, residents in Williams, near the south rim of the Grand Canyon, planned a candlelight vigil to honor her memory.

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