When a motorist pulled over along a Tennessee highway because of vehicle troubles in March 1985, this driver made a horrifying discovery that sparked a nearly four-decade search for a woman’s name and killer.
After nearly 40 years, state authorities have identified the remains discovered between mile markers 29 and 30 of Interstate 24 West in Cheatham County. She was Michelle Lavone Inman, only 23.
At the time her remains were discovered, agents for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation worked with forensic anthropologists at the University of Tennessee, who determined she was a white woman.
These experts estimated she had died two to five months before the discovery.
Investigators at the time exhausted their leads, however. They could not determine her identity and had to use the placeholder name, Jane Doe.
Time passed. Technology developed, including a new law enforcement tool: genetic genealogy, which is often used to identity victims and track down suspects by using family DNA.
“In December, as part of the Unidentified Human Remains DNA Initiative, TBI agents submitted a sample of the woman’s remains to Othram, Inc., a private lab based in Texas, for forensic genetic genealogical DNA testing. Scientists provided information about possible relatives connected to the woman,” they wrote.
From there, investigators tracked down the victim’s brother to Virginia.
“Agents made contact with a family member and confirmed that he had a sister he had not heard from in more than four decades,” the TBI wrote.
Forensic scientists compared his DNA to the remains and were able to finally identify the woman as Michelle Lavone Inman.
Authorities’ next step is to catch her killer. The TBI voices hope that the public can provide information that can solve Inman’s murder.
If you have information about this homicide, specifically any knowledge about individuals Michelle Inman may have been with before her death, or recognize any of the clothing from the scene, please call 1-800-TBI-FIND. Or, send an email to [email protected]
More Law&Crime coverage: Family of 1986 cold case murder victim pleads for public’s help in identifying killer
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]
Michelle Lavone Inman found murdered near Interstate 24 West
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