Facial reconstruction created for Lawrence County's 'Belle in the Well'

Facial reconstruction created for Lawrence County's 'Belle in the Well'
(Source: Mike DeWine)
(Source: Mike DeWine)
(Source: Mike DeWine)
(Source: Mike DeWine)
(Source: Mike DeWine)
(Source: Mike DeWine)
(Source: Mike DeWine)
(Source: Mike DeWine)
(Source: Mike DeWine)

IRONTON, Ohio - Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Lawrence County Coroner Benjamin Mack, M.D. unveiled a new forensic facial reconstruction of a woman whose remains were found in Lawrence County in 1981 on Friday.

The clay model was created by a forensic artist with the Attorney General's Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) in an effort to identify the murder victim.

"Despite many efforts to identify this woman over the years, she is still without a name," said Attorney General DeWine. "We hope that this forensic facial reconstruction will trigger someone's memory of a friend or loved one who hasn't been heard from for decades. Finding out who this victim was is the first step toward finding out who killed her."

The Caucasian woman's body was found in a covered well in Chesapeake, Ohio, on April 22, 1981. Authorities estimate that she was between 30 and 60 years old at the time of her death. She weighed around 140 pounds and was approximately 5'3" tall.  Her eye color and hair color are unknown.

"This cold case, referred to locally as the 'Belle in the Well,' has lingered here in the tri-state area of Lawrence County for over three decades," said Dr. Mack. "Retired Chief Investigator Bill Nenni has been a major driving force in keeping this case alive and pursuing new avenues. We strongly believe that the victim is of local Appalachian decent from Ohio, Kentucky, or West Virginia. If you have any information about her or if you have an unaccounted for family member from this time frame matching this description, we strongly ask you to reach out to us."

The woman was found wearing a dark pullover sweater underneath a lightweight shirt with a red cable-knit sweater on top. She was also wearing gray slacks, red socks, and a rubber band on each of her wrists.

More details can be found in a public bulletin released by BCI's Criminal Intelligence Unit on Friday

Anyone with information on who this person may be is urged to contact BCI's Criminal Intelligence Unit at 740-845-2406.

This is the sixth forensic facial reconstruction created by BCI's forensic artist.

The models are created using exact duplicates of the victims' skulls made by a 3D printer at The Ohio State University. Muscles and tissue are molded using scientific guidelines that specify the thickness of the tissue in areas such as the chin, brow, nasal bridge, and cheeks. Items such as hairstyle are the artist's estimations to complete the forensic facial reconstruction and should not be considered as significant markers for identification.

Of the six reconstructions created by BCI's forensic artist, one case has been solved.

The BCI Missing Persons Unit helps to locate missing persons, proactively identifies at-risk youth, and works with nationwide partners to recover human trafficking victims.

BCI also offers the Ohio LINK (Linking Individuals Not Known) Program, a free service to police, coroners, and families of missing individuals.

The LINK Program was established through the Attorney General's Office in 1999 to help match DNA taken from family members of missing individuals to DNA from unidentified remains.

Samples of DNA submitted by family members as part of the LINK Program are compared only to DNA samples of unidentified remains submitted through similar programs nationwide.

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