In 2016, Ohio police were finally able to close the books on a century-old missing person’s case – at least the missing part. When an Ohio resident learned that they were in possession of 72 human bones, they called the police to report it. The police came out to the Ohio home and surveyed the garage, which had been home to the old bones for some time – the current resident was not a suspect.
New London Police Chief Mike Marko took a special interest in this case. Because the bones were so old, he wanted to see if his officers would be able to close the book on an old cold case. He was right to pursue this long shot. With help from The Porchlight Project, Chief Mike Marko was able to get the nonprofit to run a DNA test and see if there was a match to any Ohio residents.
According to the website, “The Porchlight Project is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that offers support for families of the missing and murdered. We specialize in finding new DNA testing and genetic genealogy for Ohio cold cases.”
In collaboration with a genealogy service, the New London Police Department had what they wanted. But first, they had to send the old bones across state lines to Virginia. Experts in the Virginia lab extracted DNA from the old bones and learned a shocking fact about the remains – they belonged to 18-year-old Hallie Armstrong, a strapping young Ohio teacher who went missing all the way back during the years following the Civil War.
“We have closed a cold case and ruled out homicide. As one door is closed, another opens in the continuing mystery of how her remains ended up here in New London,” the police chief said.
According to the records, Hallie served as a schoolteacher until she died suddenly at the age of eighteen. Although local legend does not have a record of how Hallie died, her remains were supposed to have been buried in a graveyard in Wilmington, Ohio. Instead, some graverobber or love interest kept her remains in a garage to keep a close watch on them.
Although the fact that Hallie’s remains were sitting in a garage for more than one hundred years, locals were happy to know that she could finally be put to rest. At least a potential murder had not been committed any time recently.
“I’m happy to say we’ve helped the New London Police rule out a potential homicide in their town,” The Porchlight Project Founder James Renner told Fox 8. “And in the process of solving one mystery, we’ve uncovered a much older one — who was Hallie Armstrong, really, and how did her remains end up in a barn in New London, a hundred years after her death? Hopefully, one day, we can provide an answer.”
Although New London residents don’t know why the bones of a former school teacher from the 1880s were stored in a remote garage, locals are happy that a cold case can be closed.
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