UPDATE: Chattanooga family, police helping in investigation of human bones found in suitcase
Gwinnett County Police sketch and evidence photos.
UPDATE: It's been six months since human remains were found in a suitcase on the side of a Georgia interstate. Now a tip has police looking into the possibility the remains are that of a Chattanooga woman. Police released a sketch this week of what the woman may have looked like. Which, they said, led to that tip involving a young woman missing from our area.
Investigators with the Chattanooga Police Department said they have not been contacted by the agency handling the case and the information released does not match any local missing person cases. Still Georgia authorities are following the tip in hopes it leads to answers.
“We haven't been contacted in any way, shape, form, or fashion about this case,” said Investigator Jeff Dean with the Chattanooga Police Department. Dean has been working with the Missing Person Unit for 19 years. But Chattanooga investigators hope somewhere a family will get the closure they need soon. “Puts families in panic mode. We are having to calm families down and say no, no this person is not your family member.”
Nearly six months after a suitcase was found in this wooded area in Gwinnett County, Georgia police have matched a face to the skeletal remains. An important step in solving missing person cases. “It is very important, it helps. When we get the sketches out you get all tips and calls from people.”
The victim is believed to be a 20 year-old white woman of probably Asian Indian or Eastern Indian descent. The Gwinnett County Medical Examiner tells Channel 3 a Chattanooga family shared dental records in hopes of connecting the remains to their loved one. “Dental records are unique to individuals. We can compare the Skelton individuals to the dental records,” said Pamela Ashmore a Biological Anthropology professor at UTC. She said Forensic Anthropology helps crime scene investigators identify victims in cases like this one. “Age of the person, stature, the biological sex, ancestry, and the health and lifestyle status.”
Police believe the woman was dead for six months before a worker found the suitcase. Ashmore said there would have been plenty of clues to collect. “The soft fleshy tissue will certainly go away. But the bones will be intact.”
Chattanooga investigators do not believe the woman remains are that of a Chattanooga, but will wait to hear from authorities in Georgia.
Investigators want to urge people to always report a potential missing person.
The remains do not match any missing person cases through Gwinnett County. The lead investigator has received numerous tips over the past several months. None of those tips were a link to this victim.
Please contact the Gwinnett County Police Department Criminal Investigations Section at 770-513-5300 with tips. To remain anonymous, tipsters should contact Crime Stoppers at 404-577-TIPS (8477) or visit the official website.
Crime Stoppers tipsters can receive up to $2,000 for information leading to an arrest and indictment in this case.
PREVIOUS UPDATE: Channel 3 has learned that a Chattanooga family has sent dental records to the Gwinnett County Medical Examiner's Office to help determine the identity of the human skull and an entire set of bones found in a suitcase along Interstate 985 near Atlanta.
Chattanooga police will hold a news conference Thursday afternoon where they will comment on the case.
In 2016, there were 23 cases of missing woman aged 20-30 reported, according to Elisa Myzal, Chattanooga Police Department Communications Coordinator. None of those cases are still open, she says.
Gwinnett CO Medical Examiner office is following two leads a missing woman from Chattanooga and one from Virginia @WRCB
Channel 3 will have a crew at the news conference and will update this story online and tonight on Channel 3 Eyewitness News.
PREVIOUS STORY: ATLANTA (AP) - Authorities are getting fresh leads on the possible identity of a woman whose skull and bones were found inside a suitcase along a Georgia freeway outside Atlanta.
Ted Bailey, an investigator with the Gwinnett County Medical Examiner, says authorities will check out a tip from a relative about a missing female from Chattanooga, Tennessee. He said they're also looking into information about a missing female from Virginia.
The new leads came in Wednesday, shortly after Gwinnett County police released a sketch of the woman.
"It was so far into the woods that it was not possible that it was thrown from a moving car. It was taken into the woods by somebody on purpose," Gwinnett County Police Cpl. Michele Pihera said.
Her bones were discovered by a worker along Interstate 985 in July. Police say the victim is believed to be in her 20s.
She was wearing a black Miley Cyrus hoodie, black Victoria's Secret pants and a pink pair of 2014 Women's Nike Air Max Cage, size 7.
Investigators estimate the woman died about six months before being found.
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