SMYRNA — Authorities released facial reconstruction images Monday in hopes of getting information from the public to aid the investigation into a child’s remains found near the Little Lass softball fields in September.
After a flurry of public response following the discovery just over two months ago, the number of tips waned. The images rendered by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children were designed to revive the flow of contacts.
“Initially, we were flooded with public tips both locally and regionally,” Smyrna Police spokesman Cpl. Brian Donner said. “We have spoken to numerous persons with potential information for us.
“The public tips have slowed down considerably and we are hoping that someone sees these images and it sparks a memory for them or causes them to have a conversation with us about something that they may know.”
The remains were found Sept. 13 by a person walking their dog near the softball fields next to Duck Creek Parkway. Police were contacted around 4:30 p.m. that day and the investigation commenced.
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children has assisted law enforcement throughout the search for answers, and case manager Carol Schweitzer on Monday described the investigation as “Very active.
“What we need now is more input from the public,” she said.
Smyrna Police said that the female child was believed to be Caucasian or Hispanic, likely between ages 2 and 5 and was dead for several weeks or possibly longer when located. The child had slightly wavy hair, Cpl. Donner said.
“An anthropological exam of her remains suggests that she suffered from chronic illness(es),” he said.
NCMEC examined a CT scan of the child’s skull along with the report of Dr. David Hunt (a Smithsonian Institution forensic anthropologist), who examined the remains while partnering with the Delaware Division of Forensic Science.
The information was provided to an artist, who created several images.
“While there’s never going to be a portrait, an artist’s goal is to find something that gets the public’s attention (perhaps through some sort of identifying characteristic),” Ms. Schweitzer said.
“The aim is to produce a likeness.” Describing them as “one of the resources that provides the most value,” images go a long way in gaining attention that the printed word and headlines can’t do, Ms. Schweitzer said.
“When you have an image packaged with information someone is more likely to connect with it and give it a look,” she said.
According to the NCMEC, it is currently helping in more than 700 cases involving the remains of an unknown child and has played a role in identifying remains on 143 occasions.
Information sharing and communications with other law enforcement agencies are ongoing, Cpl. Donner said.
The majority of our recent tips have come from within the law enforcement community,” he said. “We have released investigatory findings etc. to relevant national LE only outlets for dissemination.
“Our detectives have been in touch with Police agencies from across the country comparing active missing child cases to our case. As of yet, through DNA and other means, we have ruled out all of these tips.”
Cpl. Donner said the public continues to ask questions about the case status.
“Unfortunately, once the initial work of scene processing etc. is done the case kind of slows down and the work becomes more behind the scenes and tedious and there really isn’t much to release that would be helpful to bringing this case to justice,” Cpl. Donner said.
“Hopefully the public can understand that this case remains the agency’s top priority and has thousands of man hours and resources being poured into it.”
Anyone with possible information was asked to call Det. Bill Davis at 653-3490 or contact Smyrna Police through Facebook or on Twitter @ SmyrnaPD.
Tips can also be provided to Delaware Crime Stoppers at 1-800-TIP-3333 or NCMEC at 1-800-THE-LOST.