|Forensic Re-creation Of "Grace" Doe found in McDonald County in 1990|
The diligent work of a detective in McDonald County has led to a facial reconstruction of a woman who was found murdered on county road over twenty years ago.
Lorie Howard has devoted hundred's of hours of her own time the last three years trying to find out who "Grace" Doe is so she can give her back her real name.
For about three weeks in late 1990 a ten year-old boy who lived on Oscar Talley Road told his parents that there was a dead person on a carport near an abandoned farmhouse. They believed at the time it was just the little boys imagination. It wasn't.
A couple collecting cans on December 2, 1990, found Grace's skull, that was wrapped in a towel, and other bones scattered in some weeds near the farmhouse and called authorities. Grace's skeletal remains had been scattered by animals, according to Howard.
Some people who live on the dirt road told investigators that they heard a woman scream and the rumbling of a loud vehicle, possibly a diesel truck, idling near the farmhouse about a week before Halloween that year.
When investigators gathered evidence the picture that was developing was disturbing.
Grace had been hogtied with several types of ropes and cable with intricate knots: Nylon rope, lead rope, coaxial cable, telephone cable, military issued parachute cord and clothesline. Both hands were behind her back and tied to one leg with a shoelace.
|Detective Lorie Howard holding the bindings found on Grace's body|
Howard believes Grace was raped before someone strangled her. The detective believes that because when an autopsy was performed on the woman in Columbia there were no bullet or stab wounds and no signs of blunt force trauma that would have caused her death.
A single sandy colored blonde hair was found on the collar of the jean jacket that Grace was wearing. "I believe whoever killed Grace lived or lives in the area," said Howard.
Howard believes Grace's murderer/s were familiar with the area because of how remote the area is and the layout of the road. "It's not a road you would want to get stuck on. It's bumpy and windy. They had to know the area and that the farmhouse was abandoned. I don't believe they stumbled upon the area."
In 2009, after reviewing every piece of evidence from the original investigation, Detective Howard discovered a fingernail inside an evidence bag. "When I opened it, I realized this was part of the body and that it had never been tested," Howard said.
That fingernail could be the link that ties Grace to a family member. A DNA profile was able to be constructed form the long lost evidence.
A forensic rendition of Grace was impossible for a long time because the woman's bones and skull had been missing for several years and were only recently re-discovered at the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville. Howard had reached out to medical examiners in Columbia and an anthropologist at U of A to help locate them and they were eventually found. "By the grace of God they found them."
|Lywood's Forensic Re-creation Of "Grace" Doe|
Howard says she calls her Jane Doe “Grace” because people have told her it will only be by the grace of God that she will ever solve the mystery.
After Grace's bones and skull were recovered Howard took them to Freeman Hospital in Neosho and sent the scans to forensic artist Victoria Lywood in Montreal, Canada.
Lywood sent daily updates for about two weeks to Howard. "She would tell me I worked on the eyebrows today...or I worked on the lips. The last update I had was on Thursday [April 7th]....on Friday I opened my email and the subject line said Meet Grace."
"I wanted to know her. I was sure after I saw her I would know who she was. I didn't. Now I know I'm not going to stop until I find out who she is and we get this solved."
Howard says Lywood included shoulder length hair because that was what investigators had remembered... she even included a jean jacket. “It’s almost exactly how I pictured her,” Howard said of Grace. “The detail is amazing.”
|Jean Jacket found with "Grace" Doe|
Grace was probably in her mid-20's to early 30's with brown eyes, is believed to have brown eyes and auburn hair. Based on a hair sample taken from her remains, she was probably of mixed race, likely Caucasian and Native American, according to Howard.
Anthropologists believe Grace was between 5’1” and 5’4” and probably weighed around 120 pounds.
former sheriff's deputy in Will County Illinois. She was last seen by her father when she waved to him when she passed him on a road near their home in Beecher.Abrams was a
Shortly after Abrams was fired, Marquez filed a criminal complaint against her, alleging harassment. The complaint was dismissed. Marquez was himself terminated from the police department in December 1990.
A few months after her termination, Abrams filed a lawsuit alleging wrongful dismissal, sexual harassment and violation of civil rights. The defendants included Marquez and seven others in the sheriff's department.
Abrams is Illinois oldest active missing adult case on the National Center for Missing Adults website.
Anyone with any information about this case is encouraged to call Detective Lorie Howard at 417-223-7430.