WATCH: “Baby Jane Doe” Identified; Father, Stepmother Face Charges in Her Death

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A photo of Amore Wiggins with the “Baby Jane Doe” sketch – Alabama News Network

Opelika police say after nearly 11 years, they have finally identified the skeletal remains of a little girl who had only been known as “Baby Jane Doe.”

At an emotional news conference Thursday morning, Opelika Police Chief Shane Healey said that through research, hard work and advanced DNA testing, they can reveal that Baby Jane Doe was Amore Wiggins, who was born in January 2006.

Her remains were found at Brookhaven Trailer Park on Hurst Street in Opelika on January 28, 2012. Investigators still don’t know if she had been killed in Opelika or somewhere else.

But they do know much more about who she was. They say she was born to Sherry Wiggins of Maryland, who lost custody of Amore in 2009 in a Virginia court to Amore’s father, 50-year-old Lamar Vickerstaff, Jr. Since then, police say Wiggins has paid child support to Vickerstaff, not knowing that Amore had been killed.

WAKA ARCHIVES: BABY JANE DOE CASE, 10 YEARS LATER

Police say Vickerstaff was born and raised in Opelika but joined the U.S. Navy. He was stationed in Norfolk, Virginia; Honolulu, Hawaii; and is currently stationed in Jacksonville, Florida.

Police say he has been charged with felony murder. His wife, who is not related to Amore, is Ruth Vickerstaff, who police say is charged with failure to report a missing person.

THE INVESTIGATION

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Amore Wiggins – Photo from Opelika Police Department

The case began when skeletal remains were found at the trailer park along with a pink child’s shirt and a small bundle of curly hair. The remains were sent to the FBI laboratory in Quantico, Virginia.

It was determined that the child was a Black female between 4-7 years old. The autopsy showed she had fractures to her skull, arms, legs, shoulders and ribs, more than 15 wounds in all, that police say were attributed to blunt force trauma. The injuries had evidence of healing and had happened before her death, investigators say.

The medical examiner said that there was evidence that she was malnourished and blind in her left eye due to a fracture in her eye socket.

Police think her death happened between the summer of 2010 to 2011, well before the discovery of her remains in January 2012. Since that time, police say detectives have reviewed more than 15,000 case files from the Alabama Dept. of Public Health and investigated thousands of tips nationwide.

THE DNA

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Sketch of “Baby Jane Doe” – National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

Opelika police say they had been unsuccessful in developing a DNA profile due to the condition of the remains. But thanks to advancements in testing, in January 2022, further DNA was extracted that was suitable for genealogy testing.

Police say Othram Labs extracted DNA from the scalp while Astrea Labs took DNA from the hair. That provided enough information to establish a genealogical profile. A genealogist who works with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children was assigned to the case.

FINDING THE PARENTS

Police say in October of 2022, Lamar Vickerstaff, Jr. was identified as the father. In December of 2022, Opelika detectives went to Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville, Florida, to tell him of his daughter’s death. Police say he did not provide any information on Baby Jane Doe’s identity.

Detectives say they met with Ruth Vickerstaff, who has been married to him since 2006. They say she told them that she did not know his daughter or who might be the mother of Baby Jane Doe.

Dr. Barbara Rae-Venter with Firebird Forensics Group found possible matches to Baby Jane Doe’s mother. Police say they narrowed down the results to a woman in Maryland. In December 2022, investigators met with Sherry Wiggins, who confirmed she was the mother of Baby Jane Doe, and provided the girl’s name and birth date.

Police say Wiggins provided documentation that showed Lamar and Ruth Vickerstaff obtained custody of Amore in 2009 and that Wiggins’ visitation was suspended. Police say Wiggins had documentation showing she continuously paid child support to Lamar Vickerstaff since 2009.

At the news conference, police were asked about details involving Amore’s custody but did not disclose further details. They thanked Sherry Wiggins for her help with the investigation.

THE ARREST

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Lamar Vickerstaff, Jr. and Ruth Vickerstaff – Photos from Opelika Police Department

Detectives reached out to school boards and pediatric clinics in several states where the Vickerstaffs had lived and say they found that Amore was never enrolled in school and was never reported missing. They met with the Lee County District Attorney’s office to determine the charges to be filed.

Police say on Tuesday, January 17, 2023, both Lamar and Ruth Vickerstaff were arrested in Jacksonville, Florida.  They are being held at the sheriff’s office pending extradition to Lee County.

WHAT’S NEXT

Police say they still need help with details involving the case. They want to know more about Lamar and Ruth Vickerstaff’s relationship with Amore and about her time in Opelika.

If you have any information, contact the Opelika Police Department Detective Division at (334) 705-5220 or the Secret Witness Hotline at (334) 745-8665. Tips can also be submitted through the Opelika Police Department’s mobile app. You can remain anonymous.

Opelika police hope this story is also shared in Norfolk, Virginia, and Jacksonville, Florida, so that information might be provided by people living in those areas.

 

 

Categories: Crime, East Alabama, News, News Video