Mystery solved: Cold case murder victim identified

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(Josh Cagle/Bossier Sheriff’s Office) eanie Phelps, sister of Carol Ann Cole, speaks.  Standing with her are Lt. Shannon Mack, BSO Lead Investigator, and Sgt. Dave Faulk, BSO CSI.  Standing behind them are (l-r) Bossier Sheriff Julian Whittington; Mary Manhein, LSU FACES Lab; Dr. John Chandler, Bossier Parish Coroner; Linda Erickson, Bossier Parish 9-1-1 communications officer; Lt. Bill Davis, BSO PIO and Schuyler Marvin, Bossier/Webster DA.

The Bossier Sheriff’s Office has confirmed the identity of “Bossier Doe,” a woman found murdered in Bossier Parish more than 30 years ago, as 17-year-old Carol Ann Cole of Kalamazoo, MI.

“It’s been a long 34 years, one month and five days of waiting for the Cole family. I’m here to tell you that the wait is over; Carol Ann is coming home,” Sheriff Whittington said during a press conference.

“Bossier Doe” was the name given to an unidentified female who was found deceased by hunters in the woods off of Highway 157 near Princeton on Jan. 28, 1981. The Bossier Parish Coroner’s Office found multiple stab wounds on her and determined she had been deceased for about four to six weeks.

Bossier Sheriff’s Office detectives found no purse or identification on her, and a search of missing and unidentified person’s databases turned up nothing. Her identity remained a mystery through the years….until now.

Carol Ann Cole was born November 5, 1963 in Kalamazoo. Jeanie Phelps was just a teenager when her sister went missing in 1981.

“There’s a sense of relief, but also a deep sense of sadness,” Phelps said. “I really can not express the gratitude to everyone who put so much time into giving “Bossier Doe” an identity. So many have loved her without even knowing who she was and if you did know her, you would have loved her even more.”

Phelps tearfully described her sister as a very sweet and loving girl who was quiet and easy going.

“My beautiful blonde haired, blue eyed sister was my best friend. She was my mother hen. She looked after me,” Phelps said. “I know she loved me, too.”
According to Phelps, Carol Ann was just 15 years old when she moved to San Antonio, TX with their mother. After years of no contact, Phelps said the realization of no contact meant she would probably not find her alive.

“I know she did not want to leave me forever,” Phelps said. “This is not how I wanted to find Carol Ann. For 35 years, I wanted to have my sister beside me. Recently I came to realize that Carol Ann has been beside me this whole time, just as she was when we were children.”

Sheriff Whittington directed detectives to re-examine the case in September 2014, urging them to utilize improved technology, advanced crime scene investigation tactics, forensics, DNA and the missing person’s databases to aid in their search for an identity.
“Even after all these years, this was someone’s daughter, sister. We wanted answers,” Whittington said.
In November, a full DNA profile for “Bossier Doe” was created, which ultimately played a crucial role in her identification. Detectives also worked with the LSU FACES Lab in Baton Rouge to develop a reconstruction composite drawing of what the unidentified female may have looked like.

News about the case broke in December 2014 and facts about “Bossier Doe” were released to the public. The unidentified person was a white female ranging in age from 15-20 years old, about 5’ 6” tall, and weighing 125-135 pounds with blonde hair. She was wearing a large Buffalo Nickel belt buckle and shoes with names written on them. Forensics experts determined that she had a substance on her teeth used to bond braces that could have indicated she had removed the braces on her own.

On Feb. 6, detectives created a Facebook profile page for “Bossier Doe” in hopes of sharing her story around the nation. This was similarly used in another case involving Tammy Jo Alexander, a missing Florida teen from 1979 who was identified some 35 years as a homicide victim in New York with the help of social media.

Just six days after the Facebook page went live, investigators received a tip from a Bossier Parish 911 communications officer who said she saw a posting on Craigslist of a missing person girl from Michigan that looked similar to the composite drawing of the profile picture on the “Bossier Doe” page. The missing person on the Craigslist posting was Carol Ann Cole.

Bossier investigators contacted the family of Carol Ann Cole and coordinated with the Kalamazoo Township Police Department to set up a collection of DNA samples from the parents of Carol Ann.

Those DNA samples were then sent to the North Louisiana Criminalistics Laboratory in Shreveport in late February to be processed to see if the DNA sample from the Cole family matched the DNA profile of “Bossier Doe.”

The DNA results confirmed Carol Ann Cole to be “Bossier Doe.” Phelps said she hopes the person or persons responsible for taking her sister’s life are held responsible and that justice is served for Carol Ann.

She also sent a message to other families looking for lost loved ones.

“Never give up hope,” Phelps said. “Regardless of the outcome, there’s a sense of relief when you finally find them.”

Whittington would not comment specifically on the criminal side of this case, but did say that the investigation is ongoing.