Remains found in a Clay County field 32 years ago might have belonged to a woman named “Darlene” from Kansas City, Kan., a cold case detective said Thursday.
The name was released in the hope to fully identify the homicide victim and provide clues to help solve her death, said Detective Jesse Stoker with the Clay County Sheriff’s Department Cold Case Unit.
“To the best of our knowledge, when she was found in April 1985, she had been dead at least eight months, if not longer, so 1984 would have been the last time anyone saw her,” Stoker said.
Once detectives have her full name, they will be able to track down friends and family to find out what kind of life she lived and where she might have been when she disappeared, he said.
“The main thing right now is to get her identified,” Stoker said. “There’s a family out there who has lost a loved one.”
The woman’s remains were found in a field near Missouri 210 and Boyer Road in southwest Clay County.
“It was clearly an execution,” Stoker said. She had been shot three times in the head.
For years, investigators thought the woman was Caucasian. But after the remains were examined further, it was determined that the victim was an African-American woman between the ages of 17 and 23.
After investigators released a new composite of the woman in October, a tipster called the TIPS Hotline and said the woman might be someone she knew as “Darlene.”
The caller said the woman might have had two children and possibly lived in Kansas City, Kan. The caller said the two occasionally rode back and forth to work at an envelope company in the Northland.
“If the caller is correct and this was the Darlene whom she knew, she’s got two children out there who never knew her mother,” Stoker said. “Our hope is to get her identified to give that family some peace in knowing what happened and bury a loved one.”
Detectives reached out to the company but couldn’t confirm she had worked there. A couple employees said the composite matched someone they had worked with, but they couldn’t remember her name.
“What would be wonderful is that the person who committed this offense had some remorse and realizes that we are not giving up on the investigation and will turn themselves in,” Stoker said.
Anyone with information about the identity of the woman is asked to call the TIPS hotline at 816-474-TIPS or the Clay County Sheriff Department’s Cold Case squad at 816-407-3700 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.