Remains found in Texas in 1980 finally identified as teen

STILLWATER, Minn. (AP) — A body found along an interstate in Texas 41 years ago has finally been identified as a 14-year-old girl missing from Minnesota, according to sheriff’s officials.

New DNA technology and forensic genealogy helped investigators track the unidentified remains to a handful of possible relatives, authorities said Tuesday.

Investigators eventually determined the remains are those of Sherri Ann Jarvis whose nude body was spotted along the interstate near Huntsville by a trucker in November 1980. The cause of death was asphyxia by strangulation, Walker County Sheriff Clint McRae said at a news conference.

Authorities believe she was last seen alive at a nearby truck stop, asking directions to a Texas prison farm, Minnesota Public Radio News reported.

Her family told investigators she’d been in trouble for truancy at home in Stillwater, Minnesota, and was sent to a foster home before she disappeared. It wasn’t clear how she got to Texas or if she had any connection to the prison.

Walker County Sheriff Chief Deputy Tim Whitecotton said her slaying remains unsolved.

“We actually have some positive leads right now. We’re very excited about some of these and definitely are following up with our other law enforcement partners, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Texas Rangers,” Whitecotton said.

In a statement read at the news conference, Jarvis’ family thanked the people who worked to find her.

“We lost Sherri more than 41 years ago and we’ve lived in bewilderment every day since, until now as she has finally been found,” the family said.