MIAMI COUNTY — New technology could find the “Buckskin Girl” killer.
The identity of “Buckskin Girl,” now known to be Marcia King of Little Rock, Ark., was revealed thanks to forensic genealogy in April 2018, 37 years after her homicide. The Miami County Sheriff’s Office is now hoping to return to technology to unravel her killer, according to Sheriff Dave Duchak.
With the identity of King becoming known, Miami County Sheriff’s Office detectives have been able to reconstruct her whereabouts, relationships, and other information in the weeks leading to her discovery on Greenlee Road in April 1981, he said.
According to Duchak, investigators are now turning back to the trace evidence in the case to advance the investigation using groundbreaking technology with hair evidence that can extract nuclear DNA profiles from a rootless hair shaft. In the past, a hair sample had to have a root bulb in order to yield a DNA pattern that could be input into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) to search for a match. With new technology, all foreign hairs collected from a crime scene, even those lacking root bulbs, have the potential to provide investigators DNA data to query in databases.
The hair evidence from the Marcia King case has met standards for submission to Dr. Ed Green, a paleo-geneticist from the University of California’s company, and investigators are awaiting the results.
“We have always reviewed evidence as new technologies emerged. The latest technology, which allows the nuclear DNA profile to be obtained from a hair with no root, has only recently come about,” Duchak said. “Upon our learning of it, we immediately contacted Dr. Green, and he agreed to test our hair evidence.”
Duchak said some results already have been received, however, since it is an active investigation, he cannot share details.
“We already have some of the results, which are very promising,” Duchak said. “We would hope that any DNA profile obtained will be the killer, however it could also be from someone she had been in contact with. If it is not the killer, we may be able to gain more information from someone who had been in contact with her.”
Now that all hair evidence has the ability to potentially serve as a “molecular witness” for investigators, the Miami County Sheriff’s Office is reviewing all evidence relating to other unsolved homicides, he said. Duchak said there are a total of six unsolved homicides in Miami County, dating back to 1962, with the most recent case in 1994.
Duchak said the testing, not available in traditional crime labs, will likely cost several thousands dollars in total, with the expense depending on the number of hair samples tested, among other factors. He said no taxpayer money is being used to pay for the testing, but monies from the narcotics asset forteiture fund are being utilized.
Duchak said solving the case that is nearing four decades would mean a lot to King’s family, as well as law enforcement, some of which have spent their careers following the case.
“We always have hopes to bring justice for homicide victims and their families. We never have, nor will we ever forget, and will continually work the case and as new technologies are developed will review our evidence to learn if it is worth re-submitting as was the case here,” he said.
Greg Bridenbaugh, one of the three men who found King’s body, said finding her killer would also bring final closure for him.
“It would be awesome if they found the killer,” Bridenbaugh said. “Here we are only two years later, and they could have another discovery. Technology does some amazing things now, and if it can solve her murder, it will just be incredible.”
The investigation continues and anyone with information is asked to contact the sheriff’s office at (937) 440-6085. Anonymous tips also can be left on the sheriff’s office website at www.miamicountyohio.gov/sheriff.