JACKSON COUNTY, Miss. (WKRG) — A cold case murder mystery that has puzzled investigators for almost 40 years is solved.
We reported late last year that Baby Delta Dawn has been identified after her body was found along the side of the Escatawpa River in Mississippi back in 1982. Eighteen-month-old Alisha Heinrich had been thrown off a bridge. Her missing mother, Gwendolyn Mae Clemons (Heinrich), has never been found. You can read more about the case here.
The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office reopened the case and hired a company called Redgrave, a company that uses DNA to help identify remains. Redgrave has an advanced internship program where student interns work with them on active cases. This gives students an opportunity to gain experience doing forensic casework.
Olivia McCarter was an intern with Redgrave when the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department hired the company to crack the Delta Dawn Case. It didn’t take them long.
“It took us 52 days to solve a 38-year-old crime,” McCarter said.
McCarter and the team at Redgrave used Alisha’s DNA and pieced together a family tree to identify the little girl. Investigators confirmed her identity with her family in Missouri. Jackson County Sheriff’s Department Sergeant, Eddie Clark, was a teenager when the child’s body was found. He has been working on the case for decades. He was astonished when a college student was an integral part of solving the case.
“She is awesome at what she does. It’s unbelievable someone that young is capable of doing what she is doing. She is very, very good at what she does,” Sgt. Clark said.
Now that Baby Delta Dawn has a name, McCarter says she will have a new headstone. McCarter visits her grave once or twice a month to bring her flowers.
“She was just a little girl thrown off a bridge. No one deserves to be forgotten and chucked away like garbage,” McCarter said.
McCarter is getting ready to work on another cold case of an unidentified baby. Another Baby Jane’s grave sits right next to Alisha’s grave. That Baby Jane will be exhumed for DNA this summer.
“There are 40,000 unidentified remains in the U.S. I will not stop until every one is solved and back with their families,” McCarter said.