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Todd Matthews first heard about "Tent Girl" in 1987 when he was 17-years-old. Investigators were unable to identify the woman, who was found dead in Kentucky in 1968. It was the first time Matthews had heard about a Jane Doe and he spent the next 11 years of his life working to give "Tent Girl" a name. The amateur sleuth's commitment to missing persons cases, eventually led him to his current role with the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System. Photo: NBC.

Todd Matthews first heard about “Tent Girl” in 1987 when he was 17-years-old. Investigators were unable to identify the woman, who was found dead in Kentucky in 1968. It was the first time Matthews had heard about a Jane Doe and he spent the next 11 years of his life working to give “Tent Girl” a name. The amateur sleuth’s commitment to missing persons cases, eventually led him to his current role with the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System. Photo: NBC.

Naming the Nameless

It all started with “Tent Girl” 

“Who founded Doe Network? A single person did not found or create the Doe Network that we know and use today.”
– Todd Matthews

The Doe Network began as a website in 1999, evolving into an informal volunteer organization in 2001, and finally evolving into an official 501c on July 29, 2011.

It all started for Todd Matthews with the “Tent Girl,” so called because her body was found wrapped up in a canvas tent bag. It started with a ghost story shared among teenagers. It was Halloween night 1987. A 17-year-old Matthews listened as friends tried to spook each other with scary tales — but one story told was true.

Lori Riddle, the woman who would become Matthews’ wife, spoke of the dead body her father stumbled upon in Scott County, Kentucky in the spring of 1968.

Lori had come to Tennessee from Kentucky and told Matthews how her father Wilbur Riddle had found a murdered girl in a field near Georgetown in the 1960s.
Her name, Tent Girl struck Matthews soul. It was as if it were almost familiar. As Lori and her family became part of his own family, so did the Tent Girl. Two of his siblings had died of natural causes as infants early on in his life, and Tent Girl was no different to them in his mind.

Matthews had a place to visit his siblings, but Tent Girl didn’t have any family.

So Tent Girl became part of his own family, and he became determined to find out who she was.

It was 1968, and Wilbur Riddle was tromping around Eagle Creek, off Route 25 in backwoods Kentucky, scavenging for bell-shaped glass insulators fallen from overhead power lines. A buddy of his could resell them as paperweights, $5 a pop.

In the midst of his search, he came upon a bundled up green tarp. Riddle nudged the mass with his foot, sending it down an embankment. In the rapid movement, the tarp unravelled to reveal the bundle within.

It was shaped like a body.

Riddle panicked and ran to a gas station, where he phoned the sheriff about his discovery. A short time later, the sheriff arrived and cut away the covering. What he found horrified him. There, frozen in the stiff position of someone trying to escape was the badly decomposed body of a young girl. She looked to be a white teenager with short brown hair. Apart from the decay, her appearance was unremarkable.

1968 in Georgetown, KY "Tent Girl" is found. She remained unidentified for 30 years.

1968 in Georgetown, KY “Tent Girl” is found. She remained unidentified for 30 years.

A state trooper told reporters, “We think the girl was rendered unconscious by a blow to the head, and then tied up in the bag to die a slow death by asphyxiation.” Local sheriffs’ deputies tried for more than six months to figure out who she was. Her epitaph was merely approximate: Tent girl. Died about April 26 – May 3, 1968. Age about 16 – 19 years.

Once the press took hold of the story, the unidentified female was quickly dubbed the “Tent Girl.” Police issued a public appeal for any family members with a missing relative. No one ever came forward. Despite a few false leads, the unknown victim was finally laid to rest in Georgetown Cemetery in 1971 with a heartbreaking epitaph:

TENT GIRL
FOUND MAY 17 1968
ON U.S. HIGHWAY 25, N.
DIED ABOUT APRIL 26 – MAY 3, 1968
AGE ABOUT 16 – 19 YEARS
HEIGHT 5 FEET 1 INCH
WEIGHT 110 TO 115 LBS.
REDDISH BROWN HAIR
UNIDENTIFIED

Tent Girl burial : In this photo by Sidney Hisel, Tent Girl is buried in a country owned section of Georgetown, Kentucky Cemetery in 1968.

Tent Girl burial : In this photo by Sidney Hisel, Tent Girl is buried in a country owned section of Georgetown, Kentucky Cemetery in 1968.

Over time, her death became less of a tragedy and more of a mystery. Riddle told everyone he encountered how he found her. Everyone. Waitresses asking what he wanted for breakfast heard about the Tent Girl instead. Riddle would show a yellowing copy of Master Detective magazine, with a cover story on his gruesome discovery, to kids who came to play with his 16 children. Those same kids rubbed the Tent Girl’s rose-coloured headstone as they ran through the town cemetery in joy and terror every Halloween.

The Tent Girl could have been like so many of the 5,400 John and Jane Does taking up space in morgue freezers and potter’s fields around the US – nameless forever. Attaching identities to those bodies from the pool of 100,000 known missing persons would be an overwhelming task, even if it were a priority for every cop in every city and town. Without families, without live leads, the Does often end up in the arctic interiors of the cold case files.

Twenty years after he found the Tent Girl, Riddle told his story to teenager Todd Matthews. And Matthews, driven by tragedies of his own, became compelled to connect a life to her death. By figuring out who she was – Matthews sparked a movement that redefines how Does are identified. The methods are painstaking but simple: By trawling idiosyncratic combinations of Google, Yahoo! Groups, and personal as well as official Web sites, online sleuths have helped crack more than 38 long-unsolved cases. Their success has changed the way law enforcement and desperate families come to grips with these mysteries.

In Todd Matthews’ hometown of Livingston, Tennessee (population: 3,498), high school point guards are celebrities and men are expected to change their own oil. Brittle, artsy kids – like Matthews was in the ’80s – don’t usually win popularity contests. But Matthews had a gentle, infectious charisma, and he oozed empathy. “I always felt sorry for people who were made fun of. There were the kids that stunk, there were the kids that wore ragged clothes,” he says. “It just wasn’t right for anybody to be treated like that, just because of where they were born, who their parents were. Circumstance.”

In 1987, a couple of weeks before another Halloween, Matthews met a girl. Lori Riddle – Wilbur’s 16-year-old daughter, from somewhere near the middle of his brood and now living with her family in Livingston – was thin, with dark brown hair and cheekbones a supermodel would kill for. A few days later, they were together in study hall, telling ghost stories. Lori mentioned the Tent Girl and invited him over to meet her dad.

In Matthews, Riddle’s story found its perfect audience. Matthews was intimately familiar with death. During summers, he visited the tiny cemetery where his baby brother and sister were buried. Matthews never knew them; neither lived more than a day. But he often thought he was the one who should have died – he had open-heart surgery when he was 8 years old, and he bears the guilt of a sole survivor. James Matthews, Todd’s dad, says, “It affected him more than what it would normally do to a child.”

So did the young woman found murdered in Eagle Creek. “I told Lori, ‘I’ll find who this girl is,'” Matthews recalls. “It was fascination. Instant fascination.” He read and reread Riddle’s Master Detective. He travelled from police station to police station, looking for some new scrap of evidence.

Tent Girl became an urban legend and her tombstone was even stolen at one point, nobody knew who she was

Matthews had become somewhat obsessed with researching the case. He travelled to the Tent Girl’s gravesite and visited area newspapers in search of any small clue that might push him in the right direction. In addition to press coverage, Todd was interested in finding reports of missing persons from the same time period.

He got nowhere.

The Internet did not yet exist, and Todd’s research was limited to phone calls and interviews. For 10 years he gathered shreds of information from various sources, but nothing valuable materialized.

Then, in 1992, Matthews was watching TV at home. Al Gore – vice presidential candidate, Tennessee favorite son, and, Matthews swears, his distant cousin – was talking about an “information superhighway.”

Finally, the age of the Internet dawned, and Todd was thrust into a world where distance was no longer a barrier.

Wilbur Riddle, in 1968. He stumbled upon the body along a lonely Kentucky roadside.

Wilbur Riddle, wearing the dark shirt in 1968. He stumbled upon the body along a lonely Kentucky roadside.

It took what felt like forever to save up for the computer. His dead-end jobs – bagging groceries, assembling chairs in a furniture factory – rarely paid more than minimum wage. And then there was the matter of learning how to navigate cousin Al’s highway.

Using sites like People Finder, Matthews gathered the email addresses of anyone who lived near Eagle Creek and sent them Tent Girl spam. “I fully intended to email everyone in the United States,” he said, only half joking.

Todd and Lori married as teenagers, just nine months after they met. But the relationship turned rocky. Lori hated that her daddy’s fixation was consuming her husband. She resented the time Matthews spent in front of his monitor instead of with her.

They fought – Lori attacked him with words and fists, threw things. They wrestled to hours-long stalemates. He once cut her near the eye with his ring. After another fight, she moved out for nearly four months. Matthews couldn’t put the case away. “I felt as guilty as if I were the one responsible,” he said. “I was tortured by it.”

The break came one night in January 1998. Matthews had been online for hours; by midnight he had looked at 400 descriptions of missing persons on the Crane & Hibbs Web site, a now-defunct spot for lonely hearts and genealogy nuts. He was half asleep when three words jumped off the screen:

“Lexington 1967 Missing.” Rosemary Westbrook was looking for her sister, Barbara Hackmann-Taylor, “who has been missing from our family since the latter part of 1967.”

The dates of her disappearance lined up. So did the physical characteristics – brunette, around 5’2″. The ages didn’t: Westbrook’s sister was 24, not a teenager. But Matthews had suspected the cops had been wrong on that. The diaper found with her made him think she was a grown-up, a mother maybe.

Local authorities had to wait until March to exhume the body for DNA tests; the cold winter had frozen the ground. But that night, right then, Todd Matthews knew. “Lori, wake up!” he shouted, nearly falling over a chair. “This is it!” He was jumping up and down in the middle of their bed. “I found her!”

Todd Matthews of Tennessee and Rosemary Westbrook, originally of Illinois, in all likelihood would have never crossed paths if it hadn’t been for Todd’s persistence in identifying Rosemary’s sister. Barbara Ann Hackmann remained unidentified for three decades after her body was found dumped near Georgetown, Kentucky, in 1968.

Todd Matthews of Tennessee and Rosemary Westbrook, originally of Illinois, in all likelihood would have never crossed paths if it hadn’t been for Todd’s persistence in identifying Rosemary’s sister. Barbara Ann Hackmann remained unidentified for three decades after her body was found dumped near Georgetown, Kentucky, in 1968.

On March 2, 1998, Tent Girl was exhumed, and sent to a laboratory in Frankfort, Kentucky, for examination by Dr. Emily Craig, forensic anthropologist and state medical examiner. Known details of the Tent Girl and known details and photos of the missing sister were compared closely. Within the new examination, Dr. Craig estimated the age of the Tent Girl at death as being between the ages of 20 and 30; previous estimates, made in 1968, thought she would have been around 16 and 19. The age of the missing sister at the time of her disappearance was 24, falling within the new age estimate for the Tent Girl.

The telling point was the DNA test, however. An arm bone with the elbow joint and the lower jaw with teeth from the Tent Girl’s remains were sent to Lab Corp in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, to have the DNA sample extracted; this DNA was then compared to a DNA sample from Rosemary Westbrook. The tests took time; but, on April 22, 1998, it was announced that the DNA testing had indeed confirmed what all had hoped… Tent Girl was indeed Westbrook’s missing sister, Barbara Ann Hackmann Taylor.

When Barbara Taylor lost contact with her family in 1967, she was living in Lexington with her husband, Earl Taylor. She was 24 years old with three children, one of them an eight-month old child, thus explaining where the diaper found with her body came from. Earl Taylor worked with carnivals and driving trucks, and travelled a great deal.

At the time of Barbara’s disappearance, no search had been made nor any missing persons report filed in Lexington for the simple reasons that Earl Taylor had told her family that she had run away, and her family did not know the Taylors were living in Kentucky; a missing persons report had been filed in Miami, Florida, where Barbara’s family had last seen her. At the time that she had visited her family in Florida, Barbara had told them that she and Earl would be moving to North Carolina, and later a police search was conducted there with no results… no one knows why Barbara never let her family know that she and Earl had stopped in Lexington.

Sadly, Westbrook had attempted to file a missing persons report with the Lexington Police Department on October 31, 1995, as part of her ongoing search for any trace of her sister. She talked to an Officer Lilly in the Missing Persons/Homicide department, and answered the questions, but nothing ever came of it. On her first visit to Lexington later, she told a TV reporter about the report; when he checked on it, he could find no evidence that the report had ever been filed. It appears that Officer Lilly never filled out the report, and probably felt that he/she was only humoring a strange phone caller on a Halloween night, which is unfortunate… had the report been filed, likely Barbara Taylor would have been identified in 1995, four years earlier than she finally was.

A former Scott County coroner reportedly donated this headstone, red to match the nameless victim’s auburn hair, in 1972.

A former Scott County coroner reportedly donated this headstone, red to match the nameless victim’s auburn hair, in 1972. A second grave marker has been placed beneath the original stone in Georgetown Cemetery. It displays Barbara’s full birth name (excluding her married name), her nickname and the approximate death date.

Rosemary Westbrook was just 10 years old when her sister disappeared. Years later, as an adult, she learned that Barbara’s husband, a circus worker has since died. Discovering her fate, even three decades later, was more than a relief. “It’s been so long,” “it’s just like finally we can, like the song, exhale.”

Matthews was the first person Westbrook thanked when the official announcement came. The two trade email regularly. She came to visit when his second son was born. He meets Westbrook at her sister’s grave on holidays.

Matthews also makes regular trips to the lonely spot where his father-in-law found the Tent Girl. The trees must have been in full bloom then – it was the middle of May. Maybe the waters of Eagle Creek weren’t sickly greenish-brown, like rust and blood and industrial waste had been collecting there for two generations.

Figuring out that the Tent Girl was actually Barbara Hackmann-Taylor turned Matthews into a celebrity. 48 Hours came to Livingston to interview him. He and Lori took their first plane trip – to LA, to appear on Leeza Gibbons’ talk show. He still has her autographed head shot hanging on his office wall, near a shelf crowded with Wizard of Oz dolls and plastic skulls.

Matthews’ story gave other amateurs a reason to keep clicking. A bunch of people associated with the cold cases group – since 1999 they’d been calling themselves the Doe Network – decided to get even more serious. They pooled notes and set up a Web site. “If Todd could do it,” says Dana Gonzalez, a 27-year-old New Jersey accountant and one of the network’s chiefs, “then a group of us could probably identify more people, solve more cases.”

They all seem bound by tragedy. Gonzalez still can’t shake the memory of two little girls abducted just a few miles from where she grew up. Bobby Lingoes, a civilian dispatcher in the Quincy, Massachusetts, police department can’t forget how his namesake nephew was stabbed to death in 1988. Carol Cielecki of Whitehall, Pennsylvania, is trying to track down her ex-husband, who vanished in 1989. And then there is Matthews, still grieving over his kid sister and brother. “I never could put them behind me, and I probably never will,” he says. “I guess I’m not so good at loose ends.”

But the network began tying off a few of its own. Members started Web pages for Does and missing persons, and they put together a simple database in Yahoo! Groups to keep track of potential matches. They got their first confirmed success in December 2001: Lingoes paired up a woman struck by a train in Waco, Texas, with a missing mother from Bowling Green, Ohio. Then, two months later, there was another: a Baltimore murder victim, the only clue a T-shirt silk-screened with the words Wynn Family Reunion 1997. And another: a father of twins, missing since 1984. There is no shortage of cases. In Nevada, for example, the FBI’s National Crime Information Center reports 61 missing persons. One coroner in the state recently noted 182 Does in his county alone.

Some believe they have seen the spirit of the "Girl who Danced Herself to Death" in Kentucky’s oldest town, Harrodsburg. Around 170 years ago, a woman danced the night away at the elegant resort. Just as the sun started to rise and the last strains of music faded away, she fell to the floor, dead…and is still nameless.

Some believe they have seen the spirit of the “Girl who Danced Herself to Death” in Kentucky’s oldest town, Harrodsburg. Around 170 years ago, a woman danced the night away at the elegant resort. Just as the sun started to rise and the last strains of music faded away, she fell to the floor, dead…and is still nameless.

Making the matches is mind-numbingly tedious: Families post all over the Web, searching for missing loved ones. Local coroners and cops, nudged by the Doe Network, upload pictures and vital statistics of their Does. Groups like the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children do the same. Networkers comb through it all like they were playing the kids’ card game Concentration, digitized by Patricia Cornwell. Comparing death dates on coroner sites with last-seen-on dates on missing persons sites. Checking for scars, tattoos, anything that distinguishes the person from a crowd. Googling until the coffee runs out.

It all sounds like amateur hour. It is amateur hour. There’s no order, no discipline to the investigations. These amateur sleuths slog along at their own pace, chasing their own bogeymen. “That’s why the Doe Network is invaluable – real people looking at real data,” says Emily Craig, forensic anthropologist for the state of Kentucky.

Take Doe networker Daphne Owings-Hurgronje: The mother of two used to pull 80-hour weeks building computer systems for real estate brokers. When her infantryman husband was transferred 5,000 miles away, to Oahu, she stopped working and threw herself into a local “family readiness group.” Now he’s in Iraq, and she clocks at least six hours a day hunting for the disappeared online. It beats watching the war on CNN.

Sifting through the Doe Network’s catalog of the vanished last fall, Owings-Hurgronje thought she recognized the face of a man from Torrance, California. Then, in mid-March, she found herself on the Web page of the Clark County, Nevada, coroner. There he was again.

It didn’t quite add up. Hair color, eye color, and weight were all off. More important, the dates didn’t match. John David Clough was last reported seen July 1, 1988. But the Clark County Doe was supposedly killed on June 27. “Everything I’m seeing in terms of black and white said this was not possible,” Owings-Hurgronje said. “But I really felt like I was looking right at him.” She submitted a possible match to the group, which sent it on to Clark County for follow-up.

Direct hit.

The chances are somewhere south of slim that a database could have matched up Clough and the Clark County Doe. And it’s even less likely that a professional investigator would’ve paired the two. What cop would have had the time – on a 16-year-old case – to dig through files squirreled away in a thousand coroner’s offices? But put all the information on the network, and the network will find the connections. Driven amateurs like Owings-Hurgronje see past the inconsistencies in a way no computer could. They track people down, just like Matthews did.

Some turf-conscious cops resent the help, of course. But officers from Kentucky, Maryland, Nevada, and Vermont – even the federally funded National Center for Missing and Exploited Children – all say that some of their most tightly knotted cases weren’t untangled by some hard-as driving a Crown Vic. They were solved by overeager hobbyist geeks like Todd Matthews and Daphne Owings-Hurgronje riding Internet Explorer instead.

J. Todd Matthews, a national director of the Texas-based National Missing and Unidentified Persons System. Todd Matthews applies his own talent to facial reconstructions. Todd launched Project EDAN through which forensic artists volunteer to create composite sketches and clay reconstructions of unidentified human remains from skulls and postmortem photos. The images help law enforcement, medical examiners and coroners with investigations.

J. Todd Matthews, a national director of the Texas-based National Missing and Unidentified Persons System. Todd Matthews applies his own talent to facial reconstructions. Todd launched Project EDAN through which forensic artists volunteer to create composite sketches and clay reconstructions of unidentified human remains from skulls and postmortem photos. The images help law enforcement, medical examiners and coroners with investigations.

The Clark County coroner confirms the Clough match, and Good Morning America calls. They want to do a profile of the Doe Network.

The GMA story is standard morning-show fare, if a touch more macabre than the segment that precedes it – a dog that skateboards. Matthews talks about the Tent Girl as if everyone in America has been to Eagle Creek.

Appearing on TV during 4.9 million breakfasts may not reverse Matthews’ fortunes, but it certainly transforms the Doe Network. Going into GMA they had 200 real members. Since the April show, they added 250. Web designers pledge to upgrade the network. Database engineers want to help build a backend. And more than a few people have learned they’re not the only ones spending endless hours staring at faces, memorizing dates, and trying to find peace for the dead.

The Doe Network is a non-profit organization of volunteers who work with law enforcement to connect missing person cases with John/Jane Doe cases.

The website features “cold case” disappearances and unidentified decedents, in hopes to create awareness for such cases and to generate potential leads. Those documented have occurred during or before the year 2013. Case files are created for both unidentified and missing persons, detailing physical estimations of the subjects as well as circumstances of the disappearance, sightings and recovery of the unidentified subjects.

Images of the missing and unidentified, including forensic facial reconstructions, tattoos, and age progressions are also available for cases.

Cases of murder conviction without a body are also listed, although their cases have been solved, as the victim could possibly remain unidentified.

The website has developed an online form for viewers to submit potential matches between missing and unidentified persons, which are subsequently reviewed by volunteers prior to submission to authorities.

After the form is completed by a reader, sixteen members of the Doe Network’s administrative panel evaluate the importance of the possible match and whether or not to submit it to investigators handling the case. The website also works alongside other databases, such as the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System and the NCIC. The network contains cases from across the world and is also presented in various languages.

Since the launch of the Doe Network, over six-hundred people have volunteered. Members are selected after applications are submitted and background information is confirmed. A “core team” organizes information that is published on the website, compiling approved information received from other members.

Since the start of the project, many have acknowledged the importance of such an organization. Their website lists 70 successful identity resolutions that the site assisted with, 36 had occurred within the first five years.

Such include Deanna Criswell, found in 1987 and identified in 2015, Samantha Bonnell, and Dorothy Gay Howard, found in 1954 and identified in 2009.

Criswell was identified after family members came upon the case file of the unidentified teen and later submitted a possible connection between the two. Samantha Bonnell’s mother recognized a reconstruction created by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children on the file of her daughter.

Various other cases have been solved in a similar way, often when loved ones or those investigating the disappearance of a missing individual discover a case file on the website that details a case similar to their missing companion or family member.

Old Mike was a traveling salesman who passed away from a heart attack or stroke in the city park of Prescott, Arkansas in 1911. No one in Prescott knew Mike’s full name and, beyond the fact that they saw him once a month when he passed through selling pens and stationary, no one knew anything about him. He had no identifying papers, no licensees, and his suitcase was devoid of any evidence about who he was, where he came from, or who his family was.

Old Mike was a travelling salesman who passed away from a heart attack or stroke in the city park of Prescott, Arkansas in 1911. No one in Prescott knew Mike’s full name and, beyond the fact that they saw him once a month when he passed through selling pens and stationary, no one knew anything about him. He had no identifying papers, no licensees, and his suitcase was devoid of any evidence about who he was, where he came from, or who his family was.

The town mourned for Old Mike, and his body was taken to the Cornish Funeral Home where it was embalmed and prepared for burial

The town mourned for Old Mike, and his body was taken to the Cornish Funeral Home where it was embalmed and prepared for burial.

Old Mike is the name given to a travelling salesman who died in 1911 in Prescott (Nevada County). The people of Prescott only knew him by his first name, Mike.

Mike visited Prescott about once a month to sell pens, paper, and thread to homes and businesses near the railroad tracks in the center of town. He would arrive on the southbound 3:00 p.m. train and stay overnight. The next day, he would re-board the 3:00 p.m. train and continue his journey.

On April 11, 1911, Mike probably attended an outdoor revival in the city park. The next day, his body was found underneath a tree in the park, where he had apparently died of a heart attack or stroke.

The body was taken to the Cornish Funeral Home, where it was embalmed. A search of Mike’s belongings did not turn up any identification. What was known about Mike was that he was forty to forty-five years old; spoke English with little accent; was probably Italian; had suffered some type of injury to his right arm and left leg, possibly the effects of a stroke; and had had very elaborate dental work done. The body was placed on display at the funeral home in hopes of someone identifying it. No one came forward to identify or claim the body.

As the years passed, it became more and more unlikely that Mike would ever be identified. The body turned into somewhat of a tourist attraction, and people traveled from surrounding areas to view the remains.

In 1975, the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office asked Cornish Funeral Home to bury the body. On May 12, 1975, a quiet ceremony was held at the DeAnn Cemetery, and Old Mike was put to rest.

Click here to watch a documentary about Old Mike.

In 1975, it was more than obvious that no one was going to claim Old Mike, and so the Arkansas Attorney General requested that the funeral home finally bury Old Mike. And so, decades after his strange life-beyond-death ordeal began, Old Mike was finally put to rest and given a proper funeral.

In 1975, it was more than obvious that no one was going to claim Old Mike, and so the Arkansas Attorney General requested that the funeral home finally bury Old Mike. And so, decades after his strange life-beyond-death ordeal began, Old Mike was finally put to rest and given a proper funeral.

Tent Girl finally has a name.  Barbara Taylor, a wife and mother when she died. By now, she would have been a grandmother. Barbara had moved to Kentucky without her family’s knowledge. At the time of her disappearance, she was working at a restaurant and she had young daughters. She was also married to a carnival worker by the name of George Earl Taylor. He claimed that he hadn’t seen her in years and that she had left him for another man. When Barbara’s body was identified, George Taylor was already dead, he had died of cancer in October 1987. He was never officially implicated in Barbara’s murder, but Todd believes that he was the person responsible.

A second grave marker has been placed beneath the original stone in Georgetown Cemetery. It displays Barbara’s full birth name (excluding her married name), her nickname and the approximate death date.

Solving the mystery of the Tent Girl’s identity gave Todd Matthews a sense of purpose. He joined the Doe Network and has helped to build it to a national database. It was one of the most profound and fulfilling moments in his life. And, it also had deep impact on others as well. Already the discovery of her remains in 1968 had led to the establishment of the Kentucky State Medical Examiners Office. He also helped in the formation of EDAN (Everyone Deserves a Name) which is an organization that is made up of volunteers who donate sketches and facial Reconstructions that aide in the identification of bodies. 30 years later, the discovery of her identity in 1998 led to the creation of a state-based website by the Kentucky Medical Examiners office, called UnidentifiedRemains.net.
Rules and methods have evolved to make the process work better. Data must be validated for accuracy by communicating with law enforcement authorities, and the Doe Network has a protocol which volunteers must follow to prevent them jeopardising cases or putting themselves in danger.
Case files are in a constant state of review and cross-referenced by members, law enforcement and the public.

The Tent Girl – Angelfire

Solving ‘Tent Girl’ Case, Factory Worker Turns Missing Persons Expert …

Todd Matthews: It all started with the “Tent Girl” – Todd Matthew’s Story

Raising the Dead | WIRED

Barbara Ann Hackmann Taylor – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Tent Girls just tip of iceberg for Matthews – News-Graphic.com …

Unidentified Persons – The Doe Network

The Doe Network – Revolvy

The Strange Story of Old Mike – The Slightly Warped Website

Prescott’s Mysterious “Old Mike” Explained – Story

Some Answers | Anomalies: the Strange & Unexplained

Pulled down the aisle by Pahrump Valley Jane – The Doe Network

Project EDAN


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