Remains were found last year in Barren County; KSP says it could be a hate crime

A forensic anthropologist who examined the skeletal remains of a Native American woman found last year in Barren County told Kentucky State Police that the woman had been scalped.

State contractors spraying trees west of Glasgow near mile marker 8 along the eastbound stretch of the Louie B. Nunn Cumberland Parkway found a human skull after sunrise Aug. 15, 2011. The skull had been pierced by a bullet, state police Detective Chad Winn said.

“She is of Native American descent,” Winn said. “It has been confirmed that she was scalped. This may be a possible hate crime.”

In 2010, there were 3,949 victims of racially motivated hate crimes, according to FBI statistics. Of those cases, 1.2 percent were victims of anti-Native American bias.

A year after police found her remains, there is little known about the victim, and police continue to search for clues. “We never close these types of cases,” Winn said. “Our first priority is to identify her.”

Down a steep embankment just off the parkway and near Beaver Creek, KSP and Western Kentucky University anthropology students spent hours combing through weeds looking for additional remains in the days immediately following the discovery of the skull.

Investigators found a floral-patterned, string bikini-type garment near the area where the bones were found. The garment’s weathering was consistent with the skeletal remains. Her remains were scattered in a wooded area spread about 100 to 120 feet apart, Winn said. Investigators last year found bones near the top of the culvert – a cluster of bones beneath some brush and additional bones at the foot of the embankment, suggesting that her body was left on the roadside and washed down, Winn said.

The woman is estimated to have been between 20 to 50 years old and 5 feet 9 inches to 6 feet tall. Her body had been in the wooded area between one and 15 years, Winn said.

Police have sent her remains to a lab that is attempting to extract DNA, a process that can take a year or more, Winn said.

“Unidentified remains are the most difficult cases to work,” Winn said.

“These cases are especially difficult because you don’t even have a victim (name),” he said. “That’s where we start any investigation.”

From there, investigators question family members and known associates, he said.

“In cases like this ... these are different than your average murder,” Winn said. “This is a well-traveled highway. People from all over the country travel that road. People are routinely picked up at gas stations and rest stops.”

Police have entered information about the woman into a variety of missing person databases looking for potential matches, but so far, no luck.

“We definitely need to get this woman identified,” Winn said. “Then work back and try to find out what happened. There’s lot of hurdles with this one.”

— Police ask anyone with information about this crime to call KSP at 782-2010.
Via AP Associated Press

Responses to "Native American woman scalped"

  1. Anonymous says:

    So far, they determined she was Native American. That is all for a whole year. The story ended until now. If she were caucasion, I would wonder if she would have been identified.

  2. Anonymous says:

    How sad I hope the police or the investigators identify the woman and just hang the person or people responsible for her death. Justice does and can happen to the people committing the crimes.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I am suprised that they have found any other info. 20 to 50 years old? 1 to 15 years? They found a string bikini that seems to have been out there that long, 1 to 15 years. Come on...

  4. Anonymous says:

    Hey now! At least they're putting it out there and investigating! Don't be negative. This is progress for our Nation given the history between Native People and Police.

  5. Skye says:

    Love and light to thous lost on the front lines. We are all one and we need to look out for one another.
    ~old Celtic native saying.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Wow!!! What is this 1940 something??? 1- 15years is the best you can do? Seriously, all the science out there and that's the best police can come up with? And why is it students that are combing the area for remains, why don't they have some sort of special investigations unit doing it?? This is some real BS because we all know that this "investigation" is never going to go anywhere. SMFH

  7. This is absurd. You can tell age by whether the top of the skull is fused or not. If it's completely fused, she was over 50 at the time of death. If it isn't fused, under 50. If it is and adult skull but far from being fused then she'd be 20s-30s, or younger, depending the extent.

    Someone SCALPED this woman, and it's a 'possible' hate crime? SMH

  8. Unknown says:

    i wonder how that person or persons would feel if that was done to a white women or a white man ????

  9. Anonymous says:

    How is this a "possible" hate crime? I think the evidence supports them dragging their asses on this one. Give this American Indian Woman a face, a name and the justice and peace she, her family and her Nation deserve!

  10. Anonymous says:

    A "possible" hate crime? Really? She is a Native and she was scalped, that is not just a possible hate crime. I hope they i.d this woman and find her killer soon.

  11. shannonreed says:

    ummm as long as they wrote this article to narrow it down for us! really!??? a year and you know no more than what was published between 20 and 50?!!not only if she were caucasion but a rich family missing her???? i just wonder how fast and with more detail this case would have had???????????

  12. Anonymous says:

    How sad it is that human beings are so prone to biases and to violence against other members of the human race. May the higher power look over her and assist us in identifying her. May she be at peace.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Since when is a scalping a possible crime?

  14. Arona Marie says:


  15. Unknown says:

    Justice will be ours , soon! Ho miigwetch!

  16. Anonymous says:

    I as well, believe if this was a white, rich woman the case would be farther along. As far as scalping, that was NOT a Native activity until the war where the French paid the Native's for each white man's scalp. I believe the white man is still doing this. THIS is a hate crime which need a special force team working on it, and yes, forensic's has come a long way. I am sure they can narrow the age down to better than 20-50 yrs. The string bikini, what 50 yr. old woman wears one??? 1-15 yrs. come on now, they just are not putting any effort into this due to her being Native. If they have forensic's that show this then they have forensic's to determan age, facial reconstruction. I know just how the Justice system works for the Native, IT DOESN'T!

  17. Anonymous says:

    We should dance the Ghost Dance again!

  18. Anonymous says:

    For many hundreds of years, my people were less than second class citizens in the land we were given to caretake. They were dispossed, their culture and religion taken from them and they were made slaves. My grandfather and my mother remember the fear of the British lawmakers and the lack of justice available to our the Irish people, and our family history is peppered with reason to fear them, so I'm not surprised you don't trust the police on this and feel that this woman will not get justice. Now, maybe this has already been done, but if they the have the skull, then they can rebuild the muscle and skin structures around the skull using clay. It's a proven method of giving the dead a face which matches the one they had when they were alive. If this was broadcast on TV, put on posters, in newspapers on milk cartons, perhaps someone who is missing this woman would see and be able to come forward and give her a name.

    I hope her spirit gets the peace it deserves. I hope her family and friends get the chance to welcome her home and to bury her with respect and to grieve properly at last because they will finally know what happened. I hope the people who did this (and it was a hate crime. No one who did this could have done it for any other reason than racist hate) are caught and get proper justice. Not a few years in a jail with the chance of life when they get out. They are evil and deserve no second chance because they didn't give her a chance.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I am a white woman from Kentucky and I am horrified by this. All whites are not racist, nor do they condone discrimination. This is the first I've heard of this murder. I am so sorry for the victim and her family. You know just because she was found in KY doesn't mean she was killed in KY nor killed by a Kentuckian. Don't be too quick to judge..........

  20. Anonymous says:

    I'm from KY as well & this is the first I've heard of this as well . I think their not a very god job of public awareness myself . Just maybe the John Walsh ideal would be a better one .

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