Police Take Unsolved Murders To Internet

Bonus story: The night I met Tent Girl

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The Internet is certainly maligned enough as a place of general depravity and poor etiquette, but all shadows have a lighter side. The Toronto Police, for example, have launched a website where visitors can check out cold homicide cases and provide new clues.
Police Take Unsolved Murders To Internet
The Toronto Star details the case of Susan Tice, a woman murdered in 1983. New DNA evidence found a murder just a couple of miles away was committed by the same suspect. The police posted the information and a $50,000 reward on the website. The law enforcement organization has also posted information about other unsolved cases at a special Facebook page, and on their own channel on YouTube.

It seems the Internet is becoming the new venue for America’s Most Wanted, a place where justice can be served with the help of the collective. What’s surprising is that more law enforcement agencies haven’t done the same. Often it takes TV coverage to generate good leads, but not always.

Perhaps one of the earliest cases the Internet helped cracked was the case of “Tent Girl,” a murder case that went unsolved in Central Kentucky for 30 years. A young woman was found stuffed into a tent bag in the late Sixties, and not until a Tennessee man began an Internet campaign to solve the mystery was the case finally solved in 1998, when Tent Girl’s relatives saw her police sketch and recognized her as Barbara Ann Hackman, who ran away with the husband who would eventually be her killer.

Unfortunately for justice, her killer died in the late Eighties. Tent Girl is so called because the locals in Georgetown, Ky. did not know her name and inscribed Tent Girl above the police sketch on her tombstone—the locals put flowers on her grave to this day. Her marker has since been updated with her true identity.

Tent Girl Side Narrative

Police Take Unsolved Murders To Internet

While a journalism student, I investigated a local legend about Tent Girl that said her eyes in the police sketch on the tombstone glowed on full moon nights. With a flashlight, a sleeping bag, and a baseball bat I located her grave at the corner of the cemetery after a series of creepy moonlighted passageways. In previous years I’d tried to convince dates to come with me and investigate; they never would, and sure enough they’d never gotten past the bats swooping by their ears. I spread my sleeping bag next to Tent Girl and waited. Everyone was quiet. Kept to themselves. And no glowing eyes.

But by the time I had stumbled upon her, the case had already been solved and her tombstone updated. Perhaps only then was her spirit able to rest, and perhaps I had just missed her.

Police Take Unsolved Murders To Internet
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  • http://www.musingsforadarkenedroom.com Mike Wilton

    I think this is an awesome idea as far as another way to reach out to the public. I don’t watch news on television so my only real information source comes from the internet. I’m sure there are a number of people out there who do the same and so connecting with the community via the internet to aid in solving cases like this is a great idea.

    The downside of course is that the internet is also full of a lot of pranksters. The ability to make up stories and falsify information is A LOT easier and A LOT more convenient online than it is when you consider calling up a tip line or something in that nature. So the problem with this being more widely accepted will be following made up leads, but I’m sure this is already something they have to deal with.

  • http://www.dogarthritiscare.com/rimadyl.php rimadyl

    I mean by taking the case to the internet it risks massive media exposure to the victim’s family and keeps the Murderer on his toes as well.This will cause excessive unneeded exposure to the victim’s families and worst still it will lead them to new dangers perhaps as they become instant internet celebrities known worldwide..

    • http://www.diamondonnet.com/ Diamonds

      How is it any different from tv media?

      I think this is a good idea, the internet will give these cases more exposure which could give these cases a break.

  • Guest

    in active cases, cops encounter a lot of false confessions and wrong information (some by pranksters, some by well-meaning people).

    well these are cold cases, so it wouldn’t hurt imo. when it comes to cold cases, any lead is better than no lead. besides, there are a lot of intuitive and insightful people who may be able to help even when they are not directly related to the case.

  • Bonny

    Who she is was solved but not her murder. Her husband I’m sure was involved, but I will never believe that there are not others out there that know the truth, infact there were other names given as suspects, but nothing happened and now 10 years have passed. There is a book coming out soon written by the Tent Girl’s daughters. They belive her spirit finaly at peace.

  • Mrs. Laverne Remigi

    I watch all kinds of television cold case programs. This past week I saw Mrs. and Mr. Heartsong’s story and remembered that I had seen a very similar story a while back. There had been a serial killer who was a trucker who travelled the main interstate highways. In fact, one of his victim’s husband was the prime suspect until by luck someone from another state heard about this fellow’s predicament. The killer was parking his semi at truck-stop or just off highway and looking for unlocked doors. Not sure of any name’s but I do remember that the killer got caught when he awoke the parent’s of his last victim and the couple somehow managed to subdo him. Could this be the same guy? There seems to be some things that click. Close to main highway, stabbed in neck, very violent overkill, took weapon with etc. Was there any other DNA on Toni Heartsong’s body besides want was presented in court by the prosecutor’s office? ie. hair If so the FBI may want to run this through there data.

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